DES MOINES — It’s official. Republican Donald Trump outpolled Democrat Hillary Clinton by 147,314 votes in Iowa’s general-election balloting to claim the state’s six presidential electoral votes.
Four members of the Iowa Executive Council — acting as the state’s Board of Canvass — unanimously certified the Nov. 8 election results Monday, closing the books on a near-record turnout year that drew 1,581,371 absentee and Election Day participants.
“Iowans take elections seriously,” said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a council member who also serves as the state’s election commissioner. “They turned out, they voted and we had a good clean, open and honest election and we saw some real participation.”
Iowa’s official election outcome saw Trump put Iowa in the Republican column by polling 800,983 votes to Clinton’s 653,669 votes — with 934,219 ballots cast on Election Day and 647,152 absentee, which was down a couple of percentage points from absentee votes cast in 2012, Pate said. Overall, more than 72 percent of eligible Iowans cast ballots — a level about 9,000 higher than four years ago but not higher than the 2008 record turnout, he added.
Trump won 93 of Iowa’s 99 counties — including traditional Democratic strongholds of Dubuque, Des Moines, Wapello, Lee and Jasper counties, Branstad noted.
“Iowa was one of the battleground states and I would say we may be the most successful,” Branstad told his weekly news conference, “a state that was carried by Obama twice — 34 counties that went for Obama went for Trump, he carried 93 of 99 counties, he carried counties that historically Republicans have not carried.”
Branstad, who plans to be on hand Thursday when Trump makes a triumphant return to Iowa for a victory rally, said Trump connected with people on a personal level and in a way that had people underestimating him — including Branstad initially — throughout the process.
“All of the elites and all of the experts were wrong. The people still decide elections in this country,” the Iowa governor added.
Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson finished third behind Trump and Clinton in Iowa’s presidential balloting with 59,186 votes, while Evan McMullin drew 12,366 by petition, Green Party candidate Jill Stein garnered 11,479 and 17,746 votes went to write-in candidates.
Johnson’s total was significant because the 3.8 percent support surpassed the 2 percent threshold needed to qualify the Libertarian Party to be granted the same major-party status as the Republican and Democratic parties — meaning future Libertarian candidates automatically will be on Iowa’s primary-election ballot and have access to checkoff money as one of the eligible parties listed on the state income tax return, Pate said.
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley was the top vote-getter on Iowa’s Nov. 8 ballot with 926,007 to Democratic challenger Patty Judge’s 549,460. Incumbent Reps. Rod Blum, R-Dubuque; David Loebsack, D-Iowa City; David Young, R-Van Meter; and Steve King, R-Kiron; also were certified as winners in their respective congressional races.
Monday’s canvass also certified winners in 25 state Senate races and 100 House contests that positioned Republicans with majorities of 59 representatives and 29 senators with an open Senate seat in Davenport to be decided later this month. Also, more than 60 judges on the ballot won retention although the number of ballots cast was only about a third of the total turnout, Pate told the Board of Canvass.
Turnout in four Iowa counties topped 80 percent: Harrison, 87.91 percent; Sioux 83.57 percent; Ringgold, 82.99 percent; and Fayette, 80.81 percent.
“We had a great team effort. We feel really good about what happened,” Branstad said of GOP victories up and down the ballot. “I continue to think the future looks very encouraging for us with the quality of the people that were elected and their age.”
During his news conference, Branstad contended the 2016 election outcome indicated the Democratic Party is “now the party of wealth and privilege, not us,” while Republicans represent the working class — statements that drew immediate challenges from Ben Foecke, executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party.
“Gov. Branstad's claim that the Democratic Party is now the party of wealth and privilege and the Republican Party represents the working class reminds me of that time when Donald Trump said ‘nobody respects women more than me.’ Everybody knows it's not true,” Foecke said in a statement.
"Republicans tried to block Democrats' efforts to raise the state's minimum wage. Republicans have repeatedly underfunded public education, raised college tuition rates, and they have fought against Democrats' efforts to preserve collective bargaining rights that allow public employees, including police, fire, and emergency responders to negotiate fair wages, benefits and workplace safety,” he added.
"The truth is that Branstad and his Republican-controlled Legislature's first priorities in 2017 will be passing tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations, writing legislation that weakens public employee organizations, and cutting funding to Iowa's public schools,” Foecke said.