One week to go, finally.

We’re at the point of the campaign cycle in Iowa where campaigns cease signing up new people for absentee ballots and go solely into ballot chase and GOTV mode. The increases in requested ballots in the daily totals from here on out will be mostly from people who voted in-person that day. For mail absentee ballots, while they can be requested as late as Friday, there’s just not enough time to reliably get them sent out and returned.

Let’s take another in-depth look at the early vote numbers, as we’re to the point where many of the numbers and vote advantages are set.

The places where we could still see big jumps are Johnson, Story, Scott and Linn counties, all of which have many satellite voting locations in the last week. Democrats believe they’ll see more early voting at those places in the last week than what happened in 2012, including in Johnson County where satellite locations were reduced from 2012 levels.

Here’s how the statewide numbers look from Monday’s report, compared to this point in the election in 2012:

Voted
Party Today Then % Diff
Democrat  198,736  219,778 90%
Republican  155,425  159,866 97%
No Party  97,503  117,485 83%

And for requests:

Requests
Party Today Then % Diff
Democrat  248,314  279,968 89%
Republican  198,459  198,383 100%
No Party  132,883  165,025 81%

Democrats hold over a 40,000 early vote advantage, and are nearing their 2012 numbers.

Despite the worrying early numbers in September, Iowa Democrats were confident their planning and strategy was on track. It seems that was the case, as Democrats have steadily climbed to 90% of their early vote total from this point in 2012. It likely won’t get up to the 2012 levels, but again, Barack Obama won by 6% then. The real question will be whether independents break heavily for Trump in Iowa – if that’s the case, Democrats would need to get ever closer to their 2012 amount. We’ll see in a week.

Republicans have hovered just above or below their 2012 performance in the early vote. All in all, it likely means Iowa will be extremely close on election night.

Democrats’ return rate is 80%, one tick above the 79% return rate they had at this point in 2012. That’s good considering their all-out absentee efforts started later. Republicans have a 78% return rate, three points below their 81% return rate at this point in 2012.

Iowa Democrats say they’ve knocked on the doors of nearly 390,000 Iowans in October, which has driven them to their slow but steady improvement in the early vote. And their increasing focus on in-person early voting helped keep their advantage over Republicans, plus it helped cut down on return rate and ballot chase problems.

County-by-County

The statewide numbers are interesting, but the county results are fun to analyze. Let’s start with where each party has the biggest raw number lead in early votes. Here’s the top ten counties for Democrats:

County Dem Voted No Party Voted GOP Voted Dem Lead
Polk 35,656 11,625 18,563 17,093
Johnson 17,155 5,493 4,272 12,883
Linn 14,406 7,081 7,705 6,701
Dubuque 9,222 3,111 4,220 5,002
Black Hawk 9,382 4,392 5,423 3,959
Scott 12,148 7,033 8,431 3,717
Story 7,500 4,265 3,905 3,595
Lee 3,009 1,118 1,221 1,788
Des Moines 3,432 1,314 1,675 1,757
Clinton 3,454 2,171 2,140 1,314

And here’s the Republicans’ best leads by county:

County Dem Voted No Party Voted GOP Voted Dem Lead
Sioux 382 395 3,191 -2,809
Plymouth 763 705 2,002 -1,239
Dickinson 858 973 1,829 -971
Mahaska 838 586 1,720 -882
Clay 547 448 1,412 -865
Lyon 128 135 933 -805
O’Brien 259 209 1059 -800
Marion 1,945 1,304 2,695 -750
Mills 493 335 1,228 -735
Page 425 263 1,126 -701

Nothing too surprising here. Democrats hold the largest leads in the biggest, urban counties. Republicans’ best advantages are almost entirely in Western Iowa.

The better thing to look at is how these numbers compare to the final early vote totals by registered Democrats and Republicans in 2012. These numbers are different from the statewide – I’m comparing this year’s current total to the final early vote in 2012, not where they stood at this point in 2012 (there aren’t easy records of that online).

Here’s Democrats’ best 15 counties compared to the final early vote turnout in 2012:

County Dem Voted Ds Early in 12 D % Early in 12
Winneshiek 1,903 1,974 96%
Dallas 4,575 5,296 86%
Story 7,500 8,769 86%
Poweshiek 1,744 2,112 83%
Worth 310 388 80%
Winnebago 393 499 79%
Polk 35,656 45,871 78%
Mitchell 516 669 77%
Dubuque 9,222 12,060 76%
Bremer 1,415 1,862 76%
Ringgold 238 317 75%
Muscatine 2,433 3,243 75%
Dickinson 858 1,144 75%
Cass 433 582 74%
Johnson 17,155 23,098 74%

Winneshiek County is easily going to break records this year with their early vote, which ought to boost Pat Ritter’s chances in the open house seat there. Dallas County is doing very well, though part of that may be due to the natural population growth there. Regardless, Dallas is turning into a real opportunity county for Democrats moving forward. Story County has been over-performing all year despite no highly competitive legislative races there.

It’s good to see Polk County doing so well, where Democrats rack up a good chunk of their statewide win margins. Poweshiek is doing surprisingly well, as is Winnebago. Many of the other rural counties on this list have targeted legislative races in them, like Worth, Mitchell, Bremer and Muscatine.

Then there’s a handful like Ringgold and Cass that are defying expectations of rural counties doing decent for Democrats this year. Perhaps that’s from Jim Mowrer’s field team?

I’ll add the full list at the very bottom of this post for both parties. Counties that are further down for Democrats than they’d like to see includes Linn, at #37 – again, they had to deal with the flood, but Monica Vernon needs a strong turnout here to defeat Rod Blum. A couple other larger counties fall beneath the midpoint, including Cerro Gordo (#54), Clinton (#64), Woodbury (#70), Webster (#78) and Wapello (#81). All of those contain a lot of working class Democrats and could be reflecting the presidential race dynamics.

The worst on the list are almost all in rural Western Iowa. Democrats always waver on sending staffing resources there simply due to the fact that there’s fewer Democrats to turn out. With numbers like these, however, the local Democratic county parties may have to reassess their efforts going forward, and figure out to deal with a lack of support if things don’t change.

Now here’s the top 15 Republican counties:

County GOP Voted Rs Early in 12 R % Early in 12
Audubon 542 563 96%
Worth 377 408 92%
Emmet 365 404 90%
Dickinson 1,829 2,055 89%
Louisa 537 606 89%
Jackson 872 985 89%
Cherokee 977 1,108 88%
Chickasaw 655 744 88%
Clay 1,412 1,613 88%
Page 1,126 1,312 86%
Ringgold 379 448 85%
Davis 417 496 84%
Decatur 378 461 82%
Hancock 653 798 82%
Winnebago 557 685 81%

Every single one of Republicans’ best counties are in rural parts of the state, with Jackson County in Eastern Iowa the most populous. Several of these track with key legislative districts, others just seem to be naturally improved for Republicans, especially those in Western Iowa. There doesn’t seem to be any big trend other than that.

Republicans’ best populous counties are Muscatine (#19), Black Hawk (#22) and Warren (#34).

But many of the state’s largest counties are lagging for Republicans, including Polk (#70), Scott (#81), Linn (#95) and Johnson (#97). This also might reflect the presidential race’s impact, with the counties that contain the higher-educated, wealthier precincts of Republicans turning out so poorly.

The big takeaway from the counties is this: Republicans are matching their 2012 numbers, so clearly they’re making up their poor showings in some urban counties by even better turnouts in the rurals. That’s all well and good, but Republicans should keep a close eye on this. Longterm, you don’t want to be falling behind in the counties that are growing in population in Iowa. Some of this can be fixed with a strong field effort in the urban counties, but they’ll also need to watch where the national party’s message goes post-Trump.

Legislative Races

We have a very good idea of where the key legislative races stand at this point in terms of who has the advantage in early votes. Democrats typically win a majority of the No Party early votes thanks to their targeting efforts, but since we can’t tell that for sure right now, I’m just leaving them out. Instead, let’s compare how big of a lead each candidate has in their party’s early vote. There’s not an easy way to compare this to how the early vote turned out in 2012 (without going precinct-by-precinct in the past statistics files, which I don’t feel like doing!), so we’ll just do a raw vote advantage (though again, we don’t know if every registered Democrat voted for the Democrat).

Here’s the list sorted by early vote advantage. Tom Courtney and Rich Taylor aren’t thought to be at risk, their races are just ones to keep an eye on in case of a Trump wave in Southeast Iowa.

District Senator Ds Voted Rs Voted Voted Diff
SD 44 Courtney 4,279 2,571 1,708
SD 30 Danielson 4,912 3,523 1,389
SD 34 Mathis 4,116 2,763 1,353
SD 42 Taylor 4,095 2,904 1,191
SD 08 Gronstal 3,288 2,596 692
SD 32 Schoenjahn 3,359 2,793 566
SD 36 Sodders 3,528 3,060 468
SD 46 Brase 3,879 3,433 446
SD 26 Wilhelm 3,340 2,966 374
SD 48 Zumbach 2,814 2,683 131
SD 28 Breitbach 3,738 3,764 -26

This table shows why Democrats feel very good about both Liz Mathis and Jeff Danielson’s races. Both have run excellent early vote operations in their district. As both districts contain some of those more moderate suburban districts, its possible we’re seeing an effect from Trump depressing Republican-leaning women here.

Mike Gronstal has a decent lead, though we’ll see how many of those white, working-class Democrats in Council Bluffs are sticking with the Democratic ticket this year – likely still enough to return the Majority Leader to the Senate. Below Gronstal are the four races Republicans think they have their best shot at winning. The Zumbach and Breitbach races don’t look that great, and its where Democrats haven’t spent that many resources. As mentioned many times before, the Republicans’ registration advantage in Northeast Iowa’s SD 28 doesn’t always translate into an actual vote advantage for Republicans, so keep that in mind.

There’s other numbers we could look at, like the return percentages or the percentage of registered Democrats signed up for early vote in each district, but I honestly didn’t think they showed anything too noteworthy.

Now for the House races:

District Senator/Rep Ds Voted Rs Voted Diff
HD 43 Hagenow/Konfrst 2,941 1,854 1087
HD 57 Stetcher 2,613 1,713 900
HD 40 Forbes 2,825 1,977 848
HD 68 Rizer/Donahue 2,178 1,351 827
HD 42 Cownie/Celsi 2,704 1,925 779
HD 58 McKean/Kean 2,039 1,319 720
HD 38 Koester/Matson 2,230 1,625 605
HD 26 Ourth 2,634 2,039 595
HD 67 Hinson/Seidl 1,938 1,412 526
HD 95 Zumbach/Whitehead 1,576 1,057 519
HD 15 McConkey 1,572 1,063 509
HD 92 Paustian/Krumweide 1,963 1,514 449
HD 60 Rogers/Kroeger 2,460 2,041 419
HD 55 Bergan/Ritter 2,396 2,038 358
HD 37 Landon/Phillips 2,337 2,080 257
HD 39 Highfill/Morris 2,549 2,366 183
HD 88 Kerr/Drew 1,588 1,489 99
HD 91 Carlson/Weise 1,916 1,919 -3
HD 51 Bloomingdale/Hejhal 1,388 1,478 -90
HD 56 Ruff 1,342 1,726 -384

You understand now why Chris Hagenow is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on those TV ads, right? Jennifer Konfrst’s campaign team has done a great job turning out her district, which will give them a big advantage going into Election Day.

Most of the Democrats’ biggest leads are in the suburban districts around the state. Democrats even lead in some places like HD 37 and HD 39, the strong Republican districts in Ankeny and Johnson. The rural Dubuque county SD 57 seat is the other one where Democrats are up big.

Democrats have put more money into Phil Weise’s race in Muscatine, but Ken Krumweide has the larger early vote advantage in Scott County. For an open Republican seat, rural Linn County’s HD 95 sure doesn’t have many registered Republicans voting early – in fact, it’s the lowest number of any district. The Republicans’ return percentage there is also the second-lowest of the districts on this list.

The improvement for Jackson County Republican’s early votes over 2012 might have looked bad for Jessica Kean’s chances in HD 58, but she still holds a healthy 720 voter lead and seems positioned to win.

The big concern for Democrats are in the Patti Ruff and Tim Hejhal districts. They’ll have to bank on most of the No Party voters here siding with the Democratic candidates. As I wrote before, Democratic volunteers should take a trip up to Northeast Iowa to help out.

County-by-County Charts

Here’s the full charts of percent of current early vote compared to final early vote in 2012. First sorted for the Democrats:

County Dem Voted Ds Early in 12 D % Early in 12
Winneshiek 1903 1974 96%
Dallas 4575 5296 86%
Story 7500 8769 86%
Poweshiek 1744 2112 83%
Worth 310 388 80%
Winnebago 393 499 79%
Polk 35656 45871 78%
Mitchell 516 669 77%
Dubuque 9222 12060 76%
Bremer 1415 1862 76%
Ringgold 238 317 75%
Muscatine 2433 3243 75%
Dickinson 858 1144 75%
Cass 433 582 74%
Johnson 17155 23098 74%
Warren 3742 5068 74%
Louisa 428 584 73%
Allamakee 663 912 73%
Henry 924 1274 73%
Floyd 1035 1439 72%
Jasper 2908 4054 72%
Jefferson 1564 2188 71%
Marion 1945 2760 70%
Hancock 317 452 70%
Pottawattamie 4793 6846 70%
Black Hawk 9382 13423 70%
Boone 1998 2874 70%
Mills 493 713 69%
Scott 12148 17603 69%
Wright 490 712 69%
Grundy 374 547 68%
Washington 1004 1474 68%
Marshall 2709 3982 68%
Clayton 856 1266 68%
Butler 415 614 68%
Sioux 382 569 67%
Linn 14406 21532 67%
Jackson 1485 2241 66%
Carroll 1099 1664 66%
Buchanan 1053 1596 66%
Lee 3009 4564 66%
Franklin 330 503 66%
Howard 460 702 66%
Van Buren 169 259 65%
Page 425 652 65%
Des Moines 3432 5280 65%
Cedar 895 1377 65%
Davis 428 660 65%
Buena Vista 632 977 65%
Osceola 90 140 64%
Jones 940 1464 64%
Fayette 1050 1642 64%
Chickasaw 825 1291 64%
Cerro Gordo 2562 4050 63%
Emmet 362 575 63%
Benton 1013 1612 63%
Taylor 151 242 62%
Montgomery 247 396 62%
Monroe 436 701 62%
Madison 805 1296 62%
Guthrie 483 778 62%
O’Brien 259 418 62%
Appanoose 673 1087 62%
Clinton 3454 5586 62%
Union 585 949 62%
Hardin 832 1351 62%
Hamilton 746 1218 61%
Adair 292 477 61%
Delaware 642 1049 61%
Woodbury 5449 8919 61%
Wayne 246 403 61%
Tama 687 1128 61%
Adams 194 319 61%
Iowa 674 1109 61%
Calhoun 353 581 61%
Clarke 453 746 61%
Sac 238 392 61%
Webster 2084 3435 61%
Decatur 365 606 60%
Ida 174 290 60%
Wapello 2209 3739 59%
Audubon 312 529 59%
Lucas 393 672 58%
Plymouth 763 1308 58%
Shelby 552 949 58%
Cherokee 461 796 58%
Kossuth 872 1515 58%
Harrison 446 780 57%
Crawford 589 1041 57%
Monona 361 644 56%
Fremont 223 398 56%
Pocahontas 273 490 56%
Greene 437 811 54%
Humboldt 323 610 53%
Mahaska 838 1672 50%
Clay 547 1094 50%
Lyon 128 262 49%
Palo Alto 533 1093 49%
Keokuk 368 757 49%

And now for the Republicans:

County GOP Voted Rs Early in 12 R % Early in 12
Audubon 542 563 96%
Worth 377 408 92%
Emmet 365 404 90%
Dickinson 1829 2055 89%
Louisa 537 606 89%
Jackson 872 985 89%
Cherokee 977 1108 88%
Chickasaw 655 744 88%
Clay 1412 1613 88%
Page 1126 1312 86%
Ringgold 379 448 85%
Davis 417 496 84%
Decatur 378 461 82%
Hancock 653 798 82%
Winnebago 557 685 81%
Wapello 1339 1649 81%
Benton 1171 1455 80%
Crawford 794 993 80%
Muscatine 2414 3060 79%
Dubuque 4220 5353 79%
Clayton 832 1058 79%
Black Hawk 5423 6925 78%
Cedar 935 1196 78%
O’Brien 1059 1356 78%
Floyd 757 978 77%
Delaware 1108 1433 77%
Fremont 455 590 77%
Howard 331 430 77%
Calhoun 563 733 77%
Lee 1221 1602 76%
Adams 308 405 76%
Mitchell 596 786 76%
Cass 1041 1392 75%
Warren 3110 4161 75%
Madison 1071 1437 75%
Taylor 371 499 74%
Bremer 1326 1784 74%
Pottawattamie 5397 7262 74%
Jasper 1756 2363 74%
Keokuk 439 592 74%
Greene 522 704 74%
Des Moines 1675 2261 74%
Cerro Gordo 2028 2741 74%
Mills 1228 1660 74%
Woodbury 5365 7259 74%
Webster 1498 2035 74%
Fayette 1019 1386 74%
Hamilton 923 1256 73%
Dallas 5128 6992 73%
Wayne 349 476 73%
Henry 1415 1932 73%
Pocahontas 400 547 73%
Winneshiek 1511 2074 73%
Humboldt 683 941 73%
Osceola 428 590 73%
Marshall 2262 3120 73%
Sioux 3191 4408 72%
Clinton 2140 2957 72%
Guthrie 648 896 72%
Butler 1009 1398 72%
Harrison 676 939 72%
Monona 374 521 72%
Lucas 581 813 71%
Ida 397 557 71%
Jones 880 1235 71%
Sac 583 819 71%
Montgomery 745 1052 71%
Tama 639 904 71%
Marion 2695 3819 71%
Polk 18563 26319 71%
Shelby 1058 1508 70%
Buchanan 773 1104 70%
Allamakee 1022 1461 70%
Story 3905 5605 70%
Clarke 453 651 70%
Monroe 413 594 70%
Kossuth 871 1253 70%
Carroll 899 1302 69%
Plymouth 2002 2902 69%
Grundy 793 1152 69%
Scott 8431 12317 68%
Appanoose 647 947 68%
Wright 797 1183 67%
Washington 1389 2062 67%
Iowa 771 1147 67%
Van Buren 347 522 66%
Buena Vista 763 1148 66%
Franklin 656 989 66%
Poweshiek 979 1485 66%
Union 823 1252 66%
Palo Alto 451 695 65%
Boone 1466 2277 64%
Mahaska 1720 2687 64%
Adair 488 772 63%
Linn 7705 12302 63%
Hardin 1170 1898 62%
Johnson 4272 7687 56%
Jefferson 760 1384 55%
Lyon 933 1757 53%

 

by Pat Rynard
Posted 11/1/16

2 thoughts on “Where Iowa’s Early Vote Stands One Week Out

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