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House Campaign Strategists Scour Iowa Results for Turnout Clues

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republican caucus turnout was highest Tuesday in Iowa's 3rd district, which should be good news for Rep. Tom Latham (above) in his bid against fellow Rep. Leonard Boswell.

More Republican voters showed up in competitive 3rd district than in the more conservative 4th district, according to caucus turnout figures tabulated by Roll Call. Those numbers should help Rep. Tom Latham (R), who is running against Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) in the competitive, Democratic-leaning 3rd district.

Turnout might have lagged in the 4th district because its population is more spread out than the 3rd, which means it’s more difficult for caucusgoers to reach their respective precincts. Nonetheless, about 36,700 Republican voters attended the caucuses in the 3rd district, while almost 31,100 attended the caucuses in the 4th district.

In the two Democratic-leaning House districts in eastern Iowa, just fewer than about 26,300 GOP voters attended caucuses in the redrawn 1st district, while almost 27,900 Republicans caucused in the 2nd district.

In wake of the results, both parties attempted to spin the caucus figures in their favor. Republicans pointed to their yet-to-be released voter registration drive success, while Democrats claimed GOP turnout faltered in key areas for House Republicans.

Republicans had a massive 111,000 voter registration disadvantage following the 2008 elections. But they’ve chipped away at that lead over the last few years, bringing more GOP voters onto the rolls than Democrats every month for the last couple of years.

“Much of that was due to the registration push by Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn,” said Doug Heye, a spokesman for the Iowa GOP. “Part of that was due to [President Barack] Obama’s unpopularity — since that time, one in 10 Iowa Democrats have left the party. Iowa Democrats are hemorrhaging voters, while the Iowa Republican Party is growing.”

House Democratic campaign aides said they’re aware of the changing dynamics in Iowa, including the new registration numbers.

Democrats also argued GOP caucus turnout was down in the 3rd and 4th districts compared with 2008. But that is a tricky comparison as the districts were redrawn significantly because Iowa lost one House seat following reapportionment.

“We always make sure that our campaigns run very aggressive ground games, which are especially important in Iowa,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said.

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