Registered Democrat Numbers Surge In Iowa After Primary

There’s a lot more registered Democrats in Iowa following last month’s high-profile, competitive primaries for governor and three congressional districts. Updated voter registration numbers from the Secretary of State’s office today shows 24,189 new registered Democrats over last month’s pre-primary numbers. They’re up 28,352 voters if you compare to the May numbers, before early voting started. Republicans grew their voter registration totals by 3,479 in the last month.

Registered Democrats still trail registered Republicans in Iowa, 618,388 to 642,827, but it brings them much closer to parity after being down 45,000 to Republicans, which was some of their worst numbers in well over a decade. Registered No Party voters still lead with 694,745, though they saw a 23,249 loss during the primary.

It’s one more piece of good data for Iowa Democrats as they head into their must-win races in 2018 to wrestle government back from full-Republican control. The primary last month saw the highest turnout for a Democratic primary since the early 1990s, and overall enthusiasm among the grassroots has been high since the 2016 election. And special elections in Iowa have seen large shifts in voting trends toward Democrats.

The jump in registered Democrats this month also ranks pretty high in historic registration changes dating back over the past decade. Typically, the only time either party sees a big jump or loss in their month-to-month registration numbers is during a primary or caucus when voters have to pick a side to participate. Most other months both parties slowly lose members, while No Party registrations see increases.

Democrats’ one-month 24,000 registration pick-up this year is even higher than after the 2006 gubernatorial primary, when the party gained 19,290 new voters following the very competitive race (that was also the year when Democrats took the trifecta in state government). But Republicans saw an even larger bump during their 2010 gubernatorial primary; 37,549 newly registered Republicans came out of the race that featured Terry Branstad’s return to electoral politics.

Iowa Caucuses drove large party switches as well. 58,449 new registered Democrats came out of the 2008 Iowa Caucus. They also gained 26,885 new voters in the 2016 Iowa Caucus. Republicans didn’t get as big of bumps from theirs; 14,356 new Republicans registered in the 2012 caucus and 20,951 did so in 2016.

To visualize this better, here’s a ranking of the one-month jumps in party registrations around major statewide primaries and caucuses dating back to 2006 (see the spreadsheet here). As you can see, this year’s Democratic registration jump is the second-highest primary boost and fourth-highest overall one-month increase in the past 12 years:

Year Party Change
2008 caucus Dem  58,449
2010 primary GOP  37,549
2016 caucus Dem  26,885
2018 primary Dem  24,189
2016 caucus GOP  20,951
2006 primary Dem  19,290
2012 caucus GOP  14,356
2014 primary GOP  14,256
2012 primary GOP  11,516
2016 primary GOP  10,094
2008 primary Dem  9,802
2008 caucus GOP  6,961
2008 primary GOP  5,700
2016 primary Dem  4,823
2018 primary GOP  3,479
2012 primary Dem  2,651
2014 primary Dem  1,640
2006 primary GOP  (1,945)
2010 primary Dem  (9,808)
2012 caucus Dem  (10,476)

Starting Line will take a closer look at where registration numbers changed the most around the state in the days to come.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 7/2/18

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