What To Watch For In Today’s Iowa Primaries

It’s primary day in Iowa! Polls are open until 9:00PM, and campaigns are going all-out today to get their identified supporters to the polls.

What should Iowa politics watchers keep their eye on tonight? Starting Line has a few suggestions below. You can also watch myself and The Iowa Republican’s Craig Robinson do live commentary on the results tonight with the ABC 5/WOI team. We’ll be covering the results on The CW Channel (Channel 9 in Des Moines, I believe), then on Channel 5 during their 10:00 newscast. Make sure to tune in for some good, informed analysis!


Iowa Senate

In 2010, the Democratic primary got just under 70,000 votes. I expect more tonight, but nothing like the what most people are predicting over on the Bleeding Heartland post.

To get a sense of the early trends, here’s the top 10 counties for early voting on the Democratic side:

County Requests Voted
Polk 4746 3276
Linn 2766 2299
Johnson 1942 1809
Woodbury 1946 1363
Dubuque 1416 1254
Jasper 1501 1156
Black Hawk 814 681
Lee 612 511
Scott 517 396
Wapello 476 347

Rob Hogg’s best bet is a strong turnout in Linn and Johnson County, and also to win those by sizable margins, like 60-40 or more. Those two counties are doing well in the early vote thanks to the 1st District primary and the Johnson County supervisors race, but it’s not overwhelming. For example, Woodbury County surpasses Johnson in early vote requests, though they lag in actual early votes, 1,809 to 1,363.

Watch what happens with the Sioux City vote – many of those people voted early on for a contentious county supervisor race, before the Senate campaign got much play on the news up there. Patty Judge could end up getting a nice chunk of votes out of Woodbury. Local primaries driving turnout in Lee, Wapello and Jasper counties could also help Judge.

1st District

There’s not a lot of rocket science to this one: Vernon should do well with a big percentage out of Linn County and needs to do well enough in the rest of the district to win. Murphy probably needs an even higher percentage out of Dubuque, along with strong turnout, and to rack up wins in most of the smaller, rural counties of the 1st District where the local activists go back a long way with him. The key swing county here is Black Hawk, as there’s no home candidate there this time.

Take a look at the 2014 results to see how each region voted strongly with their local candidate.

Swati Anesa Murphy O’Brien Vernon
Linn 3347 495 1835 836 3904
Black Hawk 289 2548 917 148 439
Dubuque 451 174 4131 203 626

If this type of trend continues, it’s hard to see Vernon losing. If she combines her 2014 votes with most of Swati Dandekar’s and Dave O’Brien’s, she’ll come out of Linn County with a massive lead. It’s hard to see Murphy dominating Dubuque County much more than he did last time.

3rd District

There shouldn’t be a big, noticeable geographic split in this district. Mowrer scooped up most of the activists in Pottawattamie County early on, so he could run strong out there. But there’s not a stereotypical “Mowrer Voter” or “Sherzan Voter” that is concentrated in certain precincts. Whoever wins Polk County in this race will essentially be the nominee. Oddly, despite this Congressional race, Dallas County has seen sparse Democratic early voting – only 189 Democrats have voted there so far.

One interesting thing to watch here is Desmund Adams’ vote. He’s often touted his endorsements from leaders in Des Moines’ minorities communities. Will they turn out? Check Des Moines precincts 34, 35, 36 and 37 – those are some of the main African American neighborhoods. Precincts like Des Moines 25, 26, 31 and 32 could reflect Latino turnout.

Adams has also campaigned heavily through the rural counties in the 3rd District. There’s not going to be a lot of votes out there, but perhaps his retail work can snag him some good percentages in individual counties.

4th District

Will Steve King or Rick Bertrand be the Republican nominee to take on Democrat Kim Weaver in November? Okay, dumb question, we all know it’s going to be Steve King. This was the great primary that wasn’t – Bertrand’s quest to upend the bombastic King never really got off the ground. I’ll be surprised if he cracks much more than 20%.

However, keep your eye on Woodbury. 2,139 Republicans have already voted there. Bertrand very well may win Woodbury County, a not insignificant rebuke to their long-time Congressman. We’ll see if Bertrand gets anywhere near a decent margin in any other county.

State Senate

SD 16 – Nate Boulton vs Pam Dearden Conner. This Des Moines East Side race will determine the next Senator from there. Quite frankly, if Boulton fails to win, young Democratic candidates may as well not even try running in this state. He is clearly the superior candidate and potential legislator, but Dearden’s father is the retiring Senator.

SD 8 – The race to take on Gronstal. Dan Dawson should prevail over Al Ringgenberg here, but Colonel Al’s percent could give clues as to how much Dawson’s negative attacks in the primary backfired.

SD 42 – Two Republicans vie for the chance to take on Rich Taylor, both from Mt. Pleasant.

Iowa House

HD 4 – Three-way GOP primary for this safe Republican district in Northwest Iowa.

HD 6 – Competitive primary between Republicans Jim Carlin and and Jacob Bossman in Sioux City seat that Jorgensen is retiring from. Perla Alarcon-Flory is the Democrat.

HD 28 – Two Democrats compete to take on Greg Heartsill, who angered many Democrats last year with his attacks on the Governor’s LGBTQ Youth Conference.

HD 29 – The big one. Dan Kelley could get knocked off by Wes Breckenridge in Newton. Read more here.

HD 33 – Brian Meyer should easily dispatch the peculiar challenge from Jim Addy in this South Side race.

HD 41 – How close will Eddie Mauro come to defeating Jo Oldson? Most expect Oldson to survive, but they also think Mauro will put up a respectable showing. Watch how well Mauro does in the South Side precincts of 64 and 65.

HD 55 – Two Republicans and two Democrats compete for this open swing district in Decorah. This will be ground zero for control of the Iowa House, so check in to see who wins.

HD 58 – Three Republicans in the primary for this open Democratic-leaning House seat that Republican Brian Moore is retiring from. Another key race in November.

HD 63 – Three Waverly Democrats in the primary to take on Sandy Salmon, who could be vulnerable if the year turns on Trump.

HD 68 – Sam Gray and Molly Donahue are the Democrats running. Gray is a college student who’s been campaigning for a while, but the party kept looking, and Donahue is their preferred choice to battle Ken Rizer.

HD 72 – Democrats are hoping Nathan Wrage comes out of his primary to challenge Dean Fisher in the Fall. This Tama race is another important seat for Democrats to pick up.

HD 77 – The other big primary race. Will Abbie Weipert or Amy Nielsen be the Democrats nominee in this safe open seat? Either way, the legislature will be adding a younger woman.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 6/7/16

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *