New Iowa Registration Numbers Post-Primary And What They Mean

July 1st, 2016
New Iowa Registration Numbers Post-Primary And What They Mean

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office released this morning the updated registration totals for July, which are the first to show major shifts from the June 6 primary. Overall, Republicans saw the largest registration gain, adding 10,094 voters to their rolls while Democrats had 4,823 new registrants. No Party totals dropped by 9,499.

Those top-lines are pretty good for Republicans, but lets take a deeper look to see why registration levels changed and where. As before with the early vote numbers, you can take a look at the spreadsheets I threw together if you want to play around with it yourself.

First, the Congressional districts. Here’s the change in raw numbers for each party:

CD Dem GOP Ind
1 2515 1165 -2533
2 1647 1772 -2083
3 1844 1503 -1261
4 -1183 5653 -3622

And the percent change if that’s helpful:

CD Dem GOP Ind
1 1.5% 0.8% -1.4%
2 1.0% 1.2% -1.3%
3 1.1% 0.9% -0.8%
4 -1.0% 3.0% -2.2%

As you can see, over half of Republicans’ voter registration gains came from the already-solidly Republican 4th District. Steve King’s primary fight against Rick Bertrand, along with competitive Republican primaries in HD 4 and HD 6 drove the state’s registration switches. There was a lot more loss from the No Party voter registrations in the 4th than the Democrats, so it doesn’t appear many Democrats decided to cross over to vote against King. My guess would be that it was the more moderate voters of the district trying to get rid of King by switching from their No Party registration. So while Republicans may crow about these new numbers, a lot of it appears driven by voters’ anger over one of Iowa Republicans’ top incumbents.

Democrats gained a decent amount in the 1st and 3rd Districts where they had competitive Congressional primaries, though it wasn’t that much different from the 2nd, where Democratic gains were driven by down-ballot races.

How about looking at the top 10 counties for Democratic registration gains by raw total:

County # Gain % Gain
Polk 1512 1.4%
Linn 1001 2.0%
Dubuque 877 3.4%
Johnson 553 1.3%
Lee 294 3.1%
Scott 263 0.7%
Dallas 260 2.2%
Black Hawk 260 0.9%
W apello 189 2.2%
Clayton 158 4.5%

And now the top 10 by percent for Democratic gains:

County # Gain % Gain
Wayne 46 4.8%
Clayton 158 4.5%
Howard 66 3.7%
Dubuque 877 3.4%
Lee 294 3.1%
Bremer 109 2.8%
Ringgold 20 2.4%
Winnebago 34 2.3%
Dallas 260 2.2%
Wapello 189 2.2%

While Polk and Linn predictably made the top two in total gains, their percentage gain was outside the top 10. Most of the better percentages were from local races. Dubuque County, however, likely got in the top 10 from Pat Murphy’s campaign turning out their home turf and local races [Update: Dubuque County also had a big sheriff race on the Democratic side as well]. Johnson had a decent chunk thanks to their supervisor races that John Deeth has covered, but it wasn’t actually too big percent-wise.

Now how about a scary number – the 10 largest percent drops for Democratic registrations:

County # Gain % Gain
Clay -363 -19.0%
Audubon -177 -18.3%
Greene -169 -10.5%
Cherokee -158 -10.2%
Mahaska -249 -9.7%
O’Brien -98 -8.3%
Page -117 -8.3%
Pocahontas -58 -6.0%
Hamilton -118 -5.0%
Franklin -59 -5.0%

Every county except for Page and Mahaska is in the 4th Congressional District. I called up the auditors in Clay and Audubon to see what caused Democrats to lose nearly 20% of their registration totals – in both cases it was highly competitive sheriff races in the Republican primary that caused people to switch.

One thing not in these tables I found interesting – Woodbury County, which led the state for a while during the primary in number of Democratic early votes, actually lost 112 Democratic voters. The supervisor primary race between Mark Monson and Marty Pottebaum must have mostly attracted just the Democrats, or a decent number of Democrats also switched over in the HD 6 race or the King-Bertrand race.

Now let’s look at Republican numbers. Here’s the top 10 in raw number switches:

County Rep Active Rep Active
Clay 1128 19.3%
Mahaska 799 11.5%
Page 632 12.3%
Benton 578 9.8%
Scott 546 1.7%
Woodbury 545 2.7%
Washington 489 7.8%
Delaware 449 10.2%
Cherokee 404 10.7%
O’Brien 400 6.9%

And in percents:

County Rep Active Rep Active
Clay 1128 19.3%
Audubon 373 17.9%
Pocahontas 279 13.6%
Greene 327 13.1%
Page 632 12.3%
Mahaska 799 11.5%
Cherokee 404 10.7%
Delaware 449 10.2%
Benton 578 9.8%
Hamilton 354 8.8%

That must have been one hell of a sheriff race in Clay County. Clay is 46th in the state in total population, so it’s quite impressive they lead both the percent and raw total. I’m not going to start calling through every county auditor, so a reader will have to let me know what was going on in Mahaska to get 799 new Republicans.

What’s noteworthy here is what counties are missing: Polk, Linn and Dallas don’t even make it into the top of numbers for Republicans.

Which counties lost the most Republican votes? Well, they didn’t have much in terms of loss:

County Rep Active Rep Active
Dubuque -312 -2.0%
Lee -52 -1.2%
Wayne -17 -1.2%
Johnson -148 -0.8%
Monroe -11 -0.7%

Dubuque was the only place where there was enough to raise an eyebrow over for Republicans.

Now let’s do a quick look at how the legislative races changed registration totals. The Senate Districts are easy since there were only two highly-competitive races:

Dem GOP NP
8 92 94 -36
16 213 10 -110
Dem GOP NP
8 0.9% 1.0% -0.3%
16 1.4% 0.1% -1.2%

That Senate District 8 primary with Dan Dawson and Al Ringgenberg really didn’t seem to move voters that much. You could barely tell there was a race considering the Democrats almost gained the same as the Republicans. The Democrats added a decent amount of new voters in the Nate Boulton/Pam Dearden Conner race, but nothing too spectacular. Both of these were mostly aimed at turning out who you already have.

Here’s the top 5 Democrats changes by HD by raw vote:

HD Dem Active Dem Active
57 438 5.5%
99 226 2.5%
65 220 2.5%
41 217 1.9%
83 215 2.6%

The percents aren’t a lot different:

HD Dem Active Dem Active
57 438 5.5%
83 215 2.6%
65 220 2.5%
44 143 2.5%
55 143 2.5%

Only the Jo Oldson/Eddie Mauro race (HD 41) actually drove Democratic registration numbers up in any significant manner. The three-way Democratic primary in HD 63 (Waverly area) only boosted Democrats’ totals by 122. I was particularly surprised to see only 128 new Democrats to come out of the HD 29 Dan Kelley/Wes Breckenridge battle.

[Update: HD 57 and 99 top this list, both in Dubuque County. The larger number comes from 57, which covers the rural third of Dubuque – most of Murphy’s boost would likely have come from the city, so the overall Dubuque numbers appear more motivated by the sheriff’s race than the 1st Congressional District.]

Let’s look at the Republican districts. Top 5 by numbers:

HD Rep Active Rep Active
2 1193 13.7%
3 812 7.3%
24 741 7.8%
79 653 6.4%
75 590 8.5%

And top 5 by percents:

HD Rep Active Rep Active
2 1193 13.7%
75 590 8.5%
24 741 7.8%
3 812 7.3%
96 454 7.0%

Again, most of these numbers were driven by county races, and not by an actual House race. The three-way primary for the deep red HD 2 was the only one to really move the numbers on its own – and props to those candidates, 1,193 Republicans is a lot to add in a district already so Republican. [Update: I hear O’Brien County, in HD 2, also had a very competitive Republican sheriff race as well.]

What this can tell us is that these legislative primaries are much more influenced by the actual voters of their party than many county supervisor and sheriff races are. Yes, in some counties the Republican or Democratic primary for a county office is the only chance you can vote since there’s no one of the other party for the general. But I think it also points to voters seeing the legislative positions as much more partisan than their local county offices. Or maybe it was just a lot of lackluster campaigns. Who knows.

The Secretary of State also tweeted out this statistic of how the party switches came about:

Without knowing how these broke down by counties or legislative districts, I’m not going to try to analyze them too much. There were 7,617 Democrats who switched to Republican, but that could have been a collection of county-level races around the state, rather than an attempt to vote against King in the 4th. Republicans also had 6,251 switch to Democrat.

If you’ve got any good tips of what drove any of these particular numbers locally, drop me a line (IowaStartingLine@gmail.com) and I’ll add it to the post.

 

by Pat Rynard
Posted 7/1/16

7 thoughts on “New Iowa Registration Numbers Post-Primary And What They Mean

  1. John Thompson says:

    Greene County switches were driven by a sheriffs race with no Democratic candidate and a competitive primary for supervisor combined with a strong door to door effort to register Republicans.

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