IOWA CITY — President Donald Trump received more than 70 percent of the votes cast on Election Day in Iowa, easily overcoming Joe Biden’s substantial lead among those who voted early, according to data released Thursday.
Unofficial results show Trump defeated Biden 53.1 percent to 44.9 percent to capture Iowa’s six electoral votes — a 138,700 margin of victory that was just shy of his 2016 defeat of Hillary Clinton.
After a record number of people voted early in person and through the mail, Trump entered Election Day facing a deficit of around 161,000 votes, according to data from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.
Republicans had predicted that their voters would show up to the polls to deliver Trump’s victory despite the state’s raging coronavirus pandemic. That’s precisely what happened.
Only 704,000 votes were cast at polling places Tuesday, a 230,000 decrease from 2016 as voters embraced mail ballots and early voting options. But more than 493,000 of them went for Trump, a 300,000-net vote pickup that helped GOP candidates defeat Democrats up and down the ballot.
The pro-Trump surge helped give Republicans a larger majority in the Legislature, flip one or two of the state’s congressional seats and re-elect U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in a pivotal race for control of that chamber.
Biden had received more than 57 percent of votes from people who voted absentee by mail or in person. Those voters made up a majority of Iowa’s electorate for the first time in a presidential race, after elections officials promoted those options as safer than crowding into polling places.
A record 1.7 million voters participated in the election, about 75 percent of those registered.
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As he did in 2006, Trump lost six of the state’s largest counties but prevailed in the other 93. This time, the electorate was even more polarized based on geography.
Trump increased his totals in conservative strongholds, kept a narrow advantage in key swing areas such as Dallas and Dubuque and retained backing in many counties that had twice gone for Barack Obama. His competitive performance in suburban areas outside Des Moines helped Republicans prevail in key legislative races.
Biden ran up larger margins in the cities of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Iowa City and Ames than Clinton did.
But the voters who helped Obama win Iowa twice when Biden was his running mate, many in small and midsize cities along the Mississippi River and in northern Iowa, largely backed Trump for a second time.
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