Another Look At Updated Early Vote Numbers For The Primary

With just two weeks left before Iowa’s primary elections on June 7, let’s take another look at the early vote totals across the state. A lot has changed since we first discussed the numbers three weeks ago.

The Secretary of State’s office is posting these totals regularly now, so you can always go check yourself on their website. Also, here’s the useful list of candidates running.

One caveat for the numbers I’m posting here – you’ll note that in some places the return rate of absentee ballots is very low. My guess in most of these cases is that those are areas where an absentee mailer just went out and everyone just recently requested ballots, and not so much an indication that a campaign isn’t picking them up. Low return rates are not uncommon at this stage in the campaign. We’ll check in again over the next two weeks to see how they’re coming back in.

Also, in case you’re wondering why I break down the Congressional races by house/senate districts instead of counties, it’s because the SOS’s county list isn’t broken up by party.

Let’s dive into what the early vote may say about each race:

Congressional Races

CD Requests Received Party
1 3441 1790 D
1 887 454 R
2 3299 1914 D
2 1300 702 R
3 3885 1877 D
3 1689 909 R
4 2546 564 D
4 4662 1609 R

The 4th District King-Bertrand race is finally heating up, now with the most early vote requests of any in the state. And it looks like Sioux City’s Rick Bertrand might be starting to turn out his voters. Take a look at the Republican early vote requests by House District in the Sioux City area (13 and 14 are in Bertrand’s senate district):

HD 6: 927
HD 13: 593
HD 14: 429

Now, the HD 6 numbers are likely more due to the two-way Republican primary to replace outgoing Representative Ron Jorgensen. But that’s still likely to help Bertrand. No other house district in the 4th Congressional District top those Sioux City numbers – only HD 4 (422 Republican requests) comes close, and they have a three-way state house primary there.

Bertrand still faces an incredibly difficult task to take down Steve King, but at least he’s starting to do what he needs to in turning out Republicans from his home base of Sioux City.

The 3rd District race for Democrats is humming along now, though part of that turnout is being drive by down-ballot Polk County races. Still, they have the most Democratic early vote requests. None of the candidates have that unique of a home base area, so it’s difficult to handicap this race with these numbers.

In the 1st District we can look at the geographic split. Here’s the senate districts in Monica Vernon’s home base of Cedar Rapids:

SD 33: 460
SD 34: 450
SD 35: 251

And here’s what it looks like in the Dubuque senate district, Pat Murphy’s home base:

SD 50: 547

So it looks like Murphy’s campaign is starting to increase the Dubuque turnout, which was low from the last report. Still, Vernon’s team just has that much more turf to work with.


U.S. Senate Race

There’s not a whole lot we can infer from the early vote numbers on the Judge/Hogg matchup. Judge is obviously going to do better in the more rural areas of the state, but I’m not going to do that deep of a dive into every single county, partly because I don’t believe either campaign is pushing a huge absentee effort. The one thing that would be helpful for Hogg is a large turnout from Linn and Johnson counties, where he’s better known and where the more liberal voters might reject Judge. From the 1st District race we can see that Cedar Rapids is turning out decently. Here’s the main Johnson County districts:

SD 37: 169
SD 43: 439

Decent in 43, but not overwhelming by any means.


State Senate Races

There’s only two big state senate primaries, the Boulton-Dearden race in Polk County’s SD 16 and the 3-way Republican race to take on Gronstal in SD 8

SD 16 Democrats: 1,277
SD 8 Republicans: 306

The East Side Boulton-Dearden matchup leads the state, but as we’ll see in a moment there’s some House districts with almost as many. Whoever wins this can essentially be a State Senator for as long as they like, so it’s a big battle going on out there.

Pottawattamie County Republicans, however, seem be to giving a big shrug of the shoulders to their race. Dan Dawson is supposed to be the preferred nominee of the party, but many will remember ole Colonel Al Ringgenberg, also in the race, from his 2012 run.


State House Races

Now we get into the good stuff. There’s no good way to post this all, so I’m just going to dump my spreadsheet of the top 20 races here:

District Requests Returned Party
41 1150 596 D
29 1033 566 D
6 927 43 R
31 668 303 D
32 609 275 D
13 593 43 R
6 552 37 D
13 497 33 D
14 448 28 D
14 429 28 R
4 422 227 R
3 396 269 R
24 329 184 R
99 296 124 D
68 295 123 D
83 273 171 D
2 269 221 R
100 251 87 D
33 248 129 D
5 239 38 R

Two strong challenges to incumbent Democrats top the list. The Eddie Mauro primary against incumbent Jo Oldson in Des Moines is driving the most early vote traffic. Mauro’s South Side operation ginned up a lot of requests early on, but labor and pro-choice groups have come back in force to help out Oldson. This whole primary is odd, with no one really sure why Mauro decided to up and challenge a well-liked incumbent, but that’s just Polk County politics for you.

The really interesting race is over in HD 29, where Wes Breckenridge has a real shot at knocking off current State Representative Dan Kelley, who seems to have upset a lot of people in Newton. Even AFSCME endorsed Breckenridge, a very rare backing of an incumbent Democrat’s opponent.

It’s rare to see a single Republican primary pushing near the top, but the Jim Carlin and Jacob Bossman Sioux City GOP race in HD 6 must be really competitive.

The HD 4 three-way Republican primary between Skyler Wheeler, Jeff VanDerWerff and Kevin Van Otterloo continues to drive turnout, but it hasn’t increased nearly as much as other races since my previous post.

Several of these House District numbers are being driven by other races already discussed (31 and 32 are for the Boulton/Dearden race). All those Democratic ballots in HD 6, 13 and 14 (all Sioux City) are likely for the County Supervisor race between Mark Monson and Marty Pottebaum. Actually, Woodbury County leads all other counties right now in early vote requests. 3,798 have been requested from Woodbury – compare that to Polk County’s 3,421. Sioux City likes to vote.

I’m not sure what’s happening in HD 2, 3 and 24. Must be local races I’m not aware of.

Those are all the main standouts to my eyes. Again, a little surprised by the low number of early votes in places like HD 58’s three-way GOP primary for that open seat (only 33 requests!) or HD 77’s Democratic primary (102 requests) in Johnson County where the winner is practically assured a November victory. The three-way Republican primary in HD 63 in Waverly may be the saddest of all – just 22 early vote requests.

Drop a comment below if there’s an interesting race or number you think I missed. Starting Line will check in on these numbers once or twice more before June 7.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 5/24/16

4 Comments on "Another Look At Updated Early Vote Numbers For The Primary"

  • Johnson County primaries are always Always ALWAYS about courthouse offices. Classic example: 1000 more votes for counry recorder than governor in 1998.

    This year the key race is a six way Board of Supervisor race for three seats. GOP crossover may be significant, especially since a new Sec of State administrative ruling that party switchers can switch back IMMEDIATELY (the old interpretation was that people had to wait till after the election)

  • 3 has a competitive primary for sheriff in Cherokee. 2 has an open supervisor seats in Dickinson and Clay County as well as a contested primary for the open sheriff race.

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