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Congress

IA-Sen: Ernst campaign preparing for possible recount

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 11:13:03 AM CDT

As the latest opinion polls show a close U.S. Senate race in Iowa, representatives of Joni Ernst's campaign have requested detailed information about ballot-counting and recounting procedures in at least five Iowa counties that have often produced Democratic vote margins, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports today. In Johnson County, which includes the Iowa City area, the auditor was asked to provide

(1) all election training manuals, and any documents stating: (2) the SOP for counting ballots (absentee, Early and normal ballots); (3) for handling absentee ballots; (4) listing each and every polling place (early and normal); (5) all aspects of the recount process, (6) a copy of all requests for documents served by Bruce Braley's campaign; and (7) all documents provide to the Braley campaign, the state party, the DNC or the Dem Sen. Campaign Cttee.

Erin Jordan and Chris Earl reported that auditors received similar requests in Linn County (Cedar Rapids area), Polk County (Des Moines area), Woodbury County (Sioux City area), and Clinton County (just north of the Quad Cities).

A public records request from a political candidate isn't unusual, but the volume of materials Ernst's campaign is seeking right before an election isn't typical, several auditors said. [Ernst's senior adviser Derek] Flowers asks auditors to notify him if they can't provide the materials within five days - which may be a challenge for some counties.

"It's going to take some time we don't have, because the people who would do it are getting ready for the election," said Linn County Auditor Joel Miller.

[Johnson County Auditor Travis] Weipert said he did not think his office would be able to compile all the requested materials before Nov. 4. His staff are consulting with Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness, he said.

Looks like Ernst's team are trying to set the stage to claim there was voter fraud in high-performing Democratic areas. I don't recall any previous statewide recount in Iowa. The recount after Minnesota's U.S. Senate race in 2008 was an ugly mess.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 22)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 09:35:28 AM CDT

Six weeks ago, Bleeding Heartland argued that it was too soon for Iowa Democrats to celebrate a lead in early voting, in part because Republicans had plenty of time to catch up. Yesterday, the number of absentee ballots registered Republicans had returned to county auditors exceeded the number of ballots returned by registered Democrats. A press release by a GOP consultant noted that it's the first time Iowa Republicans have ever led in early voting.

Democrats still lead in absentee ballots requested, but Republicans also claim that in recent days, they have generated more ballot requests from Iowans who did not vote in the 2010 general election.

I've enclosed below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 21)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 09:45:00 AM CDT

Every weekday through November 4, Bleeding Heartland will post the latest early voting numbers, as compiled by the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. I enclose below the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

As of yesterday, Republicans have nearly caught up with Democrats in ballots returned to county auditors. Democrats lead by a little more than 18,000 in absentee ballot requests, but early votes only count if the ballots come back in.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 20)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 21, 2014 at 09:40:00 AM CDT

As of yesterday, absentee ballot requests from Iowa Democrats now exceed the total early vote by Democrats in Iowa's 2010 midterm election. Ballot requests from Republicans and no-party voters surpassed those groups' 2010 early vote totals over the weekend.

Convincing supporters to vote early is important, but it doesn't matter if they don't mail in their ballots. Democrats now lead Republicans by more than 15,000 in absentee ballot requests but by less than 2,000 in absentee ballots returned to county auditors.

Follow me after the jump for the latest data on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts. All figures come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

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Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 13:33:28 PM CDT

Catching up on news from last week, the third-quarter campaign finance reports for Iowa's four Congressional districts are all online at the Federal Election Commission's website. My big takeaways:

In the open seat race in IA-01, Democrat Pat Murphy has out-rased Republican Rod Blum, both during the third quarter and in the election cycle to date. But Blum went into the home stretch with a cash advantage, for two reasons: 1) he has put more than $200,000 of his own money into the campaign, and 2) he didn't have to spend heavily before the June primary--unlike Murphy, who had to spend most of the early money he raised to get past four Democratic rivals.

In IA-02, Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack ended the quarter with far more money to spend than his GOP challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks. One reason is that as of September 30, Miller-Meeks had not put much of her own money behind her third Congressional bid. In contrast, she put more than $500,000 into her 2010 Congressional campaign.

In IA-03, David Young would be dead in the water without his personal loans to the campaign and the immense support he is getting from corporate and conservative political action committees. He entered the last five weeks of the campaign with more debts than cash on hand.

In IA-04, Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer out-raised six-term Representative Steve King yet again. Even more impressive, Mowrer raised more from individuals this quarter than any other Iowa candidate for the U.S. House. But King went into the home stretch with more cash on hand, after waiting much longer than Mowrer to start running television commercials.

Follow me after the jump for many more details from all eight major-party candidates' filings. Bleeding Heartland will cover the independent expenditures in to four U.S. House races in a future post. IA-03 continues to be the main focus for outside groups, but more money is coming into IA-01 as well. The bad news for Miller-Meeks is that IA-02 isn't drawing a lot of interest this year, in contrast to 2010.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 19)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 09:37:36 AM CDT

Every weekday through November 4, Bleeding Heartland is posting early voting numbers for all of Iowa and in each of the four Congressional districts. All data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. The latest tables are after the jump. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

Absentee ballot requests from Iowa Republicans and no-party voters now exceed the total early vote from those groups in Iowa's 2010 midterm election. Ballot requests from Iowa Democrats are only about 4,000 below the total early vote cast by Democrats in 2010.

Three big unanswered questions remain: which party is generating more absentee ballot requests from "unreliable" voters who otherwise would not participate in the midterm? Which party has mobilized more of the independents who are voting early? And which party will do better in making sure its supporters not only request an absentee ballot, but also return it to the county auditor on time?

All 99 county auditors' offices are open for in-person early voting during regular business hours through Monday, November 3. Larger-population counties also have satellite voting locations, often in public libraries or community centers. Click here (pdf) for the full list of Polk County satellite voting locations, with dates and hours. The last day for in-person early voting at satellite locations in Polk County is this Friday, October 24.  

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Weekend open thread: Senate polls and polling challenges edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Oct 18, 2014 at 16:15:00 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

I've been reading about opinion polls, and specifically, the polling industry's growing challenge of sampling a group that looks like the electorate. Almost every day, a new poll appears on Iowa's U.S. Senate race. Since last weekend's Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News, which showed Ernst up by 1 point, three other polls have shown small leads for Ernst, while one showed Braley slightly ahead. How Iowa's no-party voters are leaning is anyone's guess; some polls have shown Ernst leading among independents, others have indicated that Braley is ahead.

All of these surveys are reporting results among "likely Iowa voters," but which, if any, have correctly identified a representative sample? The statistical margin of error means little if the pollster is systematically oversampling certain voters while not reaching other groups. As Nate Silver discusses here, data since 1998 show that polls of U.S. Senate or gubernatorial races are less accurate than presidential polls.

Media orthodoxy says reporters and pollsters can never admit their own organization's poll might have been an "outlier." Rather, readers are told that all trends apparent from some group's poll reflect real shifts of public opinion. So we get the Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs saying Braley "has begun to overcome some of the vulnerabilities detected in the Iowa Poll two weeks ago," going from a double-digit deficit among independents to a slight lead, and going from 25 points down among male respondents to 16 points down. Really, is it likely Braley surged so much in two weeks, as opposed to the previous Des Moines Register/Selzer poll overstating Ernst's advantage overall and among certain groups?

Similarly, Quinnipiac's latest Iowa poll shows "independent voters backing Rep. Braley 48 - 43 percent, a shift from Ernst's 50 - 43 percent lead among these key voters last month." Did no-party voters really change their minds in large numbers over a few weeks, or did Quinnipiac's findings change because of statistical noise?

After the jump I've posted excerpts from several articles about polling and some revealing comments by Ann Selzer, a guest on a recent edition of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 16)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 17, 2014 at 09:25:00 AM CDT

Iowa Democrats got a head start on canvassing and collecting vote by mail requests one by one this summer. But after sending absentee ballot request forms to literally every registered Republican in the state, the Iowa GOP has reduced the Democratic early voting advantage substantially. As of yesterday, Democrats lead Republicans in absentee ballot requests by less than 10,000 statewide, and by only a little more than 5,000 in absentee ballots already returned to county auditors.

Follow me after the jump for the latest early voting numbers statewide and in Iowa's four Congressional districts. All data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

All 99 county auditors' offices are open for in-person early voting during regular business hours. Larger-population counties also have satellite voting locations, often in public libraries or community centers. Click here (pdf) for the full list of Polk County satellite voting locations, with dates and hours. In my experience, voting early in person is fast and easy.  

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IA-Sen: Final Braley/Ernst debate liveblog and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 16, 2014 at 19:00:00 PM CDT

In a few minutes, Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst will hold their third and final debate. KCAU in Sioux City and ABC-5 in Des Moines are televising the debate locally, and C-SPAN is showing it nationwide. I'll be liveblogging after the jump.

Before the first debate, I was concerned that Braley might lose his cool, but he did well both that night as well as in last Saturday's debate.

UPDATE: C-SPAN has the debate video archived here, for those who missed it.

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Democratic-aligned groups should run some positive ads

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 16, 2014 at 10:23:44 AM CDT

Unwritten rules about the division of labor in campaign advertising dictate that candidates run mostly positive commercials about themselves, while outside groups beat up the opponent. I understand that negative commercials have been effective in many races, but few things are more irritating than cookie-cutter political attack ads. Listening to the radio every day in recent months, the only ads I've heard from Democratic-aligned groups such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, or NextGen Climate Action have been attacks on U.S. Senate nominee Joni Ernst or IA-03 Republican candidate David Young. When the DCCC starts spending money in IA-01, I'll bet the only ads produced will be attacks on Republican Rod Blum.

Meanwhile, front groups for Republicans have been running a mix of positive and negative ads. In the IA-Sen race, some of the best pro-Ernst ads have come from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the National Federation for Independent Business. Similarly, Ernst's campaign has run a mix of positive radio ads about her and attacks on Bruce Braley, including a vicious one that's in heavy rotation now statewide.

I believe that the National Republican Congressional Committee's positive ad featuring Tom Latham's endorsement of David Young in IA-03 was more effective than the cliched attacks on Democratic candidate Staci Appel.

It's been months since I saw any positive television ad about Braley, aside for a few spots produced by his own campaign. Earlier this year, Senate Majority PAC ran some ads that painted Braley in a favorable light, but otherwise it's been non-stop anti-Ernst messaging from that group, the DSCC, NextGen Climate Action, and Sierra Club Political Action. Most of these commercials have been mediocre at best. Even if they were high quality, I don't think the strategy helps the candidate they are trying to help.

For some reason, Democratic ad consultants don't seem to understand that Iowans need to hear reasons to vote for Braley as well as reasons not to vote for Ernst. There is radio silence on the pro-Braley front and not much positive about him on television. Meanwhile, Iowa viewers and listeners are hearing reasons to support Ernst as well as reasons not to support Braley. I believe the lack of positive messaging about Braley is a strategic error and a key reason recent polling in the IA-Sen race has shown slightly better favorability numbers for Ernst.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 15)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 16, 2014 at 09:30:00 AM CDT

Iowans continue to vote early in numbers well ahead of the 2010 pace. More than 333,000 people have requested absentee ballots, and more than 170,000 ballots have been returned to county auditors. Iowans voting by mail can track their absentee ballots here to make sure the envelope arrived safely. But not every ballot that auditors receive will be counted, so it's critical to follow instructions. Seal the secrecy envelope after placing your ballot inside, and sign and seal the affidavit envelope before mailing the ballot back. Do not erase or cross out anything on your absentee ballot; you can request a replacement ballot if you make a mistake.

The latest early voting numbers statewide and in Iowa's four Congressional districts are after the jump. All data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 14)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 08:53:10 AM CDT

Every weekday morning through November 4, Bleeding Heartland will post new absentee ballot numbers, based on data released from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

The statewide Democratic advantage in absentee ballot requests now stands at just under 15,000. The largest Democratic early vote advantage continues to be in IA-02, followed by IA-01 and IA-03. Republicans have requested and returned more ballots in IA-04. Democrats say that as in 2012, they have identified the majority of the independents who are voting early. There is no way to confirm that claim using publicly available data.

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IA-03: Trouble on David Young's right flank (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 13:48:07 PM CDT

Prominent central Iowa conservatives are voicing concerns about David Young, the GOP nominee in the third Congressional district. Young can't afford to run too far to the right in his race against former State Senator Staci Appel. He needs to keep the margin close in Polk County, because the Republican voter registration advantage in IA-03 isn't large enough to save him if he gets blown out among suburban moderates. Consequently, Young has taken several middle-of-the-road positions during the general election campaign. During his first debate against Appel, he offered qualified support for a minimum wage increase. Last week, he told the Des Moines Register's editorial board that he favors some form of legal status for some undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

Speaking at a health care forum in Des Moines yesterday, Young said the Affordable Care Act is "here to stay," so Congress will "have to work to make it better." Whereas many Republicans have pledged to repeal "Obamacare," Young said he'll "be at the table trying to fix it." That pragmatic stance contradicts his promise in a pre-primary television commercial to make Obamacare disappear.

Although Young has Iowa Right To Life's support for the general election, some "pro-life" activists haven't forgotten that he once told a journalist abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest.

Social conservative talk radio host Steve Deace laid out his case against voting for Young in a Facebook post yesterday. I've enclosed excerpts after the jump. Many Iowa Democrats dismiss Deace as irrelevant, but his show is broadcast on two stations in the Council Bluffs area (the second-largest metro in IA-03) and one station in Des Moines. During the next three weeks, you can be sure Deace will urge listeners not to vote for Young.

Casting a protest vote will be easy for right-wing Republicans, because two conservative candidates qualified for the ballot in IA-03. Bleeding Heartland posted background on Libertarian Ed Wright and independent Bryan Jack Holder here.

UPDATE: On October 14, Deace bashed Young on his website and featured on his radio broadcast a segment on "John Boehner's next plan to screw conservatives." Pointing to a blog post claiming the U.S. House speaker wants to expand his majority "so the crazies you hate will be irrelevant" in Congress, Deace commented, "Another reason not to vote for David Young, as if he hasn't provided enough of them already."

SECOND UPDATE: The Iowa Republican publisher Craig Robinson had a go at Young's "schizophrenic" campaign. I've added excerpts at the end of this post.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 13)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 10:06:07 AM CDT

More than 300,000 Iowans have requested absentee ballots for the November 4 election, and nearly 140,000 have returned those ballots to their county auditors. The latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts are after the jump. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.  
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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 12)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 13, 2014 at 09:38:24 AM CDT

Every weekday through November 4, Bleeding Heartland will continue to post tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in Iowa's four Congressional districts. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22. For the first time since early voting started this year, Democrats lead Republicans in absentee ballot requests by fewer than 20,000.

In the 2010 midterm election, early ballots were cast by 155,421 Iowa Democrats, 136,243 Republicans, and 68,499 no-party voters. As of yesterday, 125,927 Iowa Democrats had requested an absentee ballot (81 percent of the 2010 total early Democratic vote), 106,982 Republicans had requested an absentee ballot (79 percent of the 2010 total early GOP vote), and 56,697 no-party voters had requested a ballot (83 percent of the 2010 total early vote by independents). Democrats claim that their canvassers have identified most of the no-party voters casting early ballots this year.

The new Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News indicated that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst is slightly ahead of Democratic nominee Bruce Braley by 47 percent to 46 percent, but also found that "The Democrats' aggressive early voting push is aiding Braley," who leads by 56 percent to 38 percent among respondents who said they had already voted.  

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Quick hits on the race in IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Oct 11, 2014 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

Here's a new thread for any comments on the race between David Young and Staci Appel in Iowa's third Congressional district. Some stories that caught my eye in the last few days:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shared with Roll Call partial results from a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll taken on October 1 and 2, which showed Appel ahead of Young by 49 percent to 42 percent, with 9 percent undecided. That's a bigger lead for Appel than in the previous DCCC poll, despite weeks of Republican attacks on the phony "passports for terrorists" issue.

Speaking of which, I agree with Kathie Obradovich's take (excerpted below) on the way the candidates handled "passports for terrorists" during their second debate.

Young's campaign released a memo yesterday hailing some $800,000 in third-quarter fundraising and an internal poll allegedly showing Young ahead. I've enclosed that memo and the Appel campaign's response at the end of this post. The polling firm Tarrance Group used strange methodology. Whereas the survey toplines showed Young leading by 43 percent to 41 percent, with other candidates taking 6 percent and 10 percent undecided, the Tarrance Group claimed Young was ahead by 47 percent to 43 percent based on "projected turnout."

I look forward to digging into the details of the third-quarter FEC reports, which should be released by October 15. I would expect GOP donors to flock to Senator Chuck Grassley's longtime top aide. But I don't understand why Young would cancel television advertising time if his campaign was bringing in so much money in the third quarter. Even if he used some of the money to pay off debts incurred during the second quarter, he should have had plenty left over for a full-court press on television.

The DCCC has increased its television advertising buy in the Omaha market, which covers roughly 20 percent of the population in IA-03. To my knowledge, neither Young nor the National Republican Congressional Committee has aired tv ads in Omaha lately.

The DCCC has been running radio ads bashing "DC David Young" for supporting tax breaks for the wealthy, even as he backs cuts to education funding (such as eliminating the U.S. Department of Education). A similar television spot has been on the air for a while. Although education funding and tax policy are important issues, I suspect most voters tune out cookie-cutter negative political advertising.

Conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart thinks Young has problems with the GOP base because of some comments on abortion, his qualified support for a minimum wage increase, and legal residency for some undocumented immigrants. News flash: IA-03 is a swing district. Young has to communicate some level of moderation on at least a few issues. Vander Hart's comments make me wonder whether hard-core conservatives will go for Libertarian candidate Ed Wright as a protest vote.

I've enclosed below excerpts from Young's comments to the Des Moines Register's editorial board about how to handle an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 9)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 10, 2014 at 09:16:11 AM CDT

More than 278,000 Iowans have already requested absentee ballots this year, roughly one-quarter as many as voted in the 2010 midterm election. As of yesterday, more than 119,000 Iowans had returned absentee ballots to their county auditors, roughly one-third as many as the total number of absentee voters from 2010.

Follow me after the jump for the latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts are after the jump. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

Iowans who have voted early by mail can use the "track your absentee ballot" page of the Secretary of State's website to confirm that your ballot reached your county auditor. Most years I have found it easier to vote early in person right at the auditor's office. That way, you know your ballot has been received.

Following the instructions for absentee voting is critically important. Ballots will not be counted if the voter has not sealed the secrecy envelope, or has not signed the affidavit envelope. If you requested an absentee ballot but can't find it, or made a mistake while filling it out, contact your county auditor for help. The easiest solution is to visit the county auditor's office, fill out a form to void the ballot first sent to you, and vote early in person right there.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 8)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 09, 2014 at 09:12:02 AM CDT

Iowans continue to vote early at a pace well ahead of any previous midterm election. Follow me after the jump for the latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts are after the jump. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables, which make it easier to spot trends in the numbers.

Democrats lead in early voting in the first, second, and third Congressional districts, while Republicans have requested and returned more ballots in the fourth district, where the GOP has a large voter registration advantage.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 7)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 08, 2014 at 09:50:00 AM CDT

More than a quarter of a million Iowans have requested absentee ballots, and nearly 100,000 have already returned early ballots to their county auditor. The latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts are after the jump. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office.

Click here for previous tables, which make it easier to spot trends in the numbers. For the first time since September 22, the statewide Democratic lead in absentee ballot requests has dipped below 30,000.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 6)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 09:36:08 AM CDT

The latest early voting numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office show Republicans continuing to gain ground. Statewide, the Democratic lead in absentee ballot requests has fallen to about 32,000. For the first time this year, Republicans have a small lead in absentee ballots requested in the fourth Congressional district (where the party has a voter registration edge of more than 55,000).

The latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts are after the jump. Click here for previous tables, which make it easier to spot trends in the numbers.

The big unanswered question remains: which party is mobilizing more voters who otherwise would not participate in a midterm election? A Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee official told Philip Rucker of the Washington Post that among the Iowans who had requested absentee ballots by October 2, about 30 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of no-party voters did not vote in 2010. The Secretary of State's Office declined to independently verify that claim. If accurate, it works out to about roughly 30,000 of the Democrats and 20,000 of the no-party voters who had requested ballots by October 2.

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