Joni Ernst Prevails in Tight Iowa Senate Race

Joni Ernst / AP
November 4, 2020

Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) prevailed over Democratic opponent Theresa Greenfield in an unexpectedly competitive race that became a priority for national liberals.

Ernst led Greenfield by 6 points when the Associated Press called the race early Wednesday morning. Republicans successfully undermined Greenfield's efforts to portray herself as a champion of small business, highlighting the Democrat's decision to evict local businesses from an Iowa shopping center in favor of a multinational corporation as a real estate executive in 2015.

Iowa small business owners called the decision "deeply troubling" in a letter to Greenfield after her June primary win, questioning whether the Democrat "would prioritize our needs as a U.S. Senator."

Greenfield also struggled to win the support of Iowa's farmers despite centering her campaign on her background as a "scrappy farm kid." Ernst was backed by the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, the state's three largest agricultural groups.

Ernst's win came in the second most expensive Senate race in U.S. history. Greenfield's campaign and liberal outside groups combined to spend at least $140 million on the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.