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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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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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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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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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Iowa absentee ballot numbers in the 2014 general election

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 11:52:18 AM CDT

This morning the Iowa Secretary of State's Office started posting absentee ballot statistics for this year's general election. They will update the chart on weekdays here (pdf).

As in 2012, Bleeding Heartland will update the absentee ballot totals daily as they become available. The first set of numbers are after the jump. I've organized the data a bit differently from the Secretary of State's Office. For each day's totals, I will create two charts: the first shows the number of absentee ballots Iowans have requested, in each of the four Congressional districts and statewide. The second shows the number of absentee ballots county auditors have received from voters, in each of the four Congressional districts and statewide. (For now, those numbers are small, because most of the county auditors have not yet mailed ballots to voters who requested them.)

In-person early voting will begin on September 25 at county auditors' offices. Some counties will open satellite locations for in-person early voting as well. When an Iowan votes early at the auditor's office, that counts as an absentee ballot requested by the voter and as an absentee ballot received by the auditor on the same day.

Today's press release from the Secretary of State's Office noted that "demand for absentee ballots with 43 days before the election is much higher this year for all party affiliations than at a similar point in 2010." Absentee ballot requests as of September 21 totaled 112,178 statewide, compared to 56,725 at this point in Iowa's last midterm election campaign. Registered Democrats had requested 57,869 absentee ballots (versus 34,318 at this point in 2010), Republicans had requested 31,099 ballots (12,710 in 2010), and no-party voters had requested 23,043 ballots (9,664 in 2010). Click here for more information about voting early, or to download an absentee ballot request form.

Note that not every mailed-in absentee ballot will count. Some ballots mailed late will not get a postmark proving voters sent them before election day. John Deeth goes over other common errors that can lead to absentee ballots not being counted, such as voters not signing the "affidavit envelope" or re-opening the affidavit envelope after sealing it. Everyone planning to vote by mail needs to read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly.

UPDATE: I should have noted that if this year's turnout is similar to 2010, about 1.1 million Iowans will cast ballots, meaning that roughly 10 percent of those likely to participate in the midterm have already requested a ballot. The Republican Party of Iowa's first mass mailing of absentee ballot request forms went out in early September, while the Iowa Democratic Party's went out last week.

SECOND UPDATE: Adding latest daily numbers after the jump.

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Catching up on the IA-01 race, with ads from Pat Murphy and Rod Blum

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 16:47:46 PM CDT

Since the June primary, I haven't written much about the first Congressional district campaign between former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy and longtime business owner Rod Blum. In theory, the race could be competitive. IA-01 leans Democratic with a partisan voting index of D+5, meaning that in the last two presidential elections, voters living here skewed about 5 percent more Democratic than the nationwide electorate. Crucially, this is a midterm, not a presidential year. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office indicate that the 20 counties in IA-01 contain 156,344 active registered Democrats, 134,313 Republicans, and 186,446 no-party voters. Hardly an overwhelming advantage. The right Republican could win this district.

Nevertheless, I doubt Blum has a strong chance in IA-01 for three reasons. First, the hero to the "Liberty" crowd and Steve Forbes is not moderate enough to win a lot of crossover voters. Blum applauded a key vote that led to last year's federal government shutdown. The Republican won't be able to run up the score in his home county either, because both Murphy and Blum are from Dubuque.

Second, Bruce Braley's Senate hopes are dead in the water if he doesn't get a strong Democratic turnout in the Congressional district where he is best known to voters. So his campaign and the Iowa Democratic Party have incentive to focus on GOTV in the key IA-01 counties. Unless the "coordinated campaign" is an epic failure, Murphy should benefit.

Third, as in Iowa's second Congressional district, we haven't seen a lot of activity from outside groups in IA-01. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is committed to defending this seat, but to my knowledge has not spent any money on radio or television commercials here. Likewise, the National Republican Congressional Committee put Blum in its top tier of challengers but hasn't reserved air time or spent significant money against Murphy. I believe they would do so if they smelled a real opportunity here.

We haven't seen much polling on this race. In August, Murphy released partial results from an internal poll indicating that he was ahead by 51 percent to 40 percent. Blum countered with his own internal showing Murphy leading by just 40 percent to 35 percent. Take those with a grain of salt, as with all internals.

Loras College surveyed 300 voters in IA-01 earlier this month and found Murphy barely ahead, by 34.6 percent to 33.0 percent, with 32.3 percent either undecided or refusing to answer. Both candidates have been campaigning around the district, but neither Murphy nor Blum started running general election television commercials until this month, which could explain the high number of undecideds. On the other hand, Loras doesn't have a long track record in polling, and that survey had a relatively small sample and a relatively large margin of error (plus or minus 5.6 percent). The cross-tabs included some unusual findings, such as Murphy barely ahead among women and Blum barely ahead among men. If true, that would be a big red flag for Murphy, who defeated three women candidates in the Democratic primary. While Republican blogger Craig Robinson draws big hope from this aspect of the Loras poll, I am skeptical that the gender gap we've seen in so many elections for decades is magically absent from this race. The margin of error for a subsample of a poll is always larger than the margin of error for the whole survey.

After the jump I've posted the first two general election ads for Murphy and the debut general election ad for Blum, as well as the spot Blum ran before the GOP primary. They all look solid to me. Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread.  

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Weekend open thread: Final Harkin Steak Fry edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 14, 2014 at 12:35:32 PM CDT

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

The weather is perfect in Indianola this afternoon for the roughly 5,000 people expected to attend Senator Tom Harkin's final "Steak Fry" event. At least 200 journalists will be on hand, mostly to see Hillary Clinton's first appearance in Iowa since the 2008 caucuses. If you see a lot of "Hillary doesn't appear to have much of an Iowa problem" stories tonight and tomorrow, remember that you heard it here first, and repeatedly.

I stand by my prediction that Hillary Clinton will face only token Democratic opposition in Iowa and elsewhere if she runs for president again. But in case she doesn't run, 2012 Harkin Steak Fry headliner Martin O'Malley is building up a lot of goodwill among Iowa Democrats. In addition to raising money for key Iowa Senate candidates this summer, the Maryland governor's political action committee is funding staffers for the Iowa Democratic Party's coordinated campaign, gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch, and secretary of state candidate Brad Anderson. I still don't see O'Malley running against Clinton in any scenario.

President Bill Clinton will speak today as well. That's got to be a tough act to follow. No one can get a crowd of Democrats going like he can. I'll update this post later with highlights from the event and news coverage. I hope other Bleeding Heartland readers will share their impressions. C-SPAN will carry the main speeches, starting at 2:00 pm. That will be on channel 95 in the Des Moines area.

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Iowa reaction to Obama's speech on fighting ISIS

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 11, 2014 at 09:29:14 AM CDT

During prime-time last night, President Barack Obama spoke to the nation about the U.S. response to the terrorist group ISIS. You can read the full text of his remarks here. I don't have a lot of confidence that airstrikes will weaken support for ISIS where they are powerful, nor do I know whether there are enough "forces fighting these terrorists on the ground" for our support to matter. At least the president isn't sending massive numbers of ground troops back to Iraq.

After the jump I've posted comments from several members of Iowa's Congressional delegation as well as candidates for federal office. I will update this post as needed later today. Feel free to share your own thoughts about the appropriate U.S. policy in the region.

UPDATE: Added more comments below. As of Thursday evening, I have not seen any public comment on the president's speech from Senator Tom Harkin, Representative Bruce Braley (IA-01 and the Democratic nominee from U.S. Senate), IA-01 Democratic nominee Pat Murphy, his Republican opponent Rod Blum, IA-02 GOP nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks, or Representative Steve King (IA-04). I would think anyone who represents or wants to represent Iowans in Congress would want to weigh in about this policy, at least on whether the president should be able to act without Congressional authorization.

I agree with State Senator Matt McCoy, who posted on Facebook, "The President did not make a credible case for sending 475 Americans into IRAQ. The bar should be set very high before a President takes action without Congressional authorization. This crisis needs more dialog and study."

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Hillary and Bill Clinton to headline the final Harkin Steak Fry

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:10:00 PM CDT

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will be the star guests at Senator Tom Harkin's final steak fry on September 14 at the Indianola Balloon Field. Doors open at 12:30 pm, event runs from 1-4. Traffic can be slow on the highway leading to the balloon field, so my advice is to allow extra time.

All of Iowa's Democratic candidates for federal and statewide office typically speak at the steak fry, but the big crowds will be there to see Hillary Clinton in her first Iowa appearance since the January 2008 caucuses. While she's in central Iowa, I would not be surprised to see her do an event for Staci Appel, Democratic nominee in the third Congressional district. Then State Senator Appel appeared at numerous events for for Hillary during 2007.

My opinion hasn't changed regarding Clinton and the 2016 Iowa caucuses: if she runs for president again, she wins here. Vice President Joe Biden and everyone else are far behind in every Iowa poll I've seen. Other presidential hopefuls are waiting in the wings, in case Clinton decides against running, but are in no position to challenge her for the nomination.

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Iowa State Fair tips and speaking schedule for state and federal candidates

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 09:47:06 AM CDT

The Iowa State Fair opened a few minutes ago and runs through August 17. I'm a big fan of the event, and after the jump, I've posted some of my favorite tips for enjoying the fair, along with the schedule for candidate appearances at the Des Moines Register's "soapbox" on the Grand Concourse. The Register will live-stream speeches by candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, as well as a few nationally known politicians from out of state.

The fair has almost endless free entertainment, but bring cash with you anyway, because the State Fair board had to backtrack on plans to eliminate cash purchases for food. Instead, vendors have been encouraged to accept credit and debit cards. I suspect most will stick with a cash-only system.  

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Iowa Congressional 2Q fundraising news roundup, with a few surprises

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 13:24:37 PM CDT

With all four U.S. House districts in Iowa targeted by one or both parties this year, and competitive primaries happening in three of the four races, I was eager to see where the nominees stood at the end of the second quarter.

Highlights from the Federal Election Commission filings are after the jump. After lackluster fundraising the last three quarters, six-term Representative Steve King finally managed to out-raise his Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer, but to my surprise, Mowrer retained a big advantage over King in cash on hand as of June 30.  

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All four Iowa Congressional districts to be targeted races in 2014

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 15:12:59 PM CDT

All four Iowa Congressional districts are being targeted by at least one of the major-party committees focused on U.S. House races. This week the National Republican Congressional Committee moved three Iowa candidates to the top tier of its "Young Guns" program: Rod Blum (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and David Young (IA-03). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee moved IA-03 nominee Staci Appel to the top tier of the "Red to Blue" program in March and elevated Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Jim Mowrer (IA-04) to that status shortly after the June 3 primary.

So far the DCCC does not appear concerned about four-term Representative Dave Loebsack's race against Miller-Meeks, whom he defeated by a large margin in 2008 and a narrow margin in 2010. In contrast to the last election cycle, Loebsack has not been added to this year's "Frontline" program for vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

Likewise, the NRCC has not put six-term incumbent Steve King in its "Patriot" program for vulnerable Republican House members, despite the fact that Mowrer has out-raised King for the last three fundraising quarters.

Not every candidate named to the "Young Guns" or "Red to Blue" program will receive the same level of financial assistance. I expect the DCCC and NRCC to spend more money in IA-03, generally considered the only "tossup" race in Iowa, than in the other three districts combined.

Any comments about this year's Iowa Congressional races are welcome in this thread. After the jump I've posted the latest voter registration totals for all four districts. Those numbers explain in part why various forecasters have categorized the seats in IA-01 and IA-02 as leaning or likely Democratic, while Republicans are favored to hold IA-04.

Next week, federal candidates must file financial reports for the second quarter. I'll be particularly interested to see how much Murphy, Young, and Miller-Meeks were able to raise between the June 3 primary and the end of the quarter. Although Young had to spend heavily and loan his own campaign $250,000 to get through the GOP primary, I expect his connections to Senator Chuck Grassley's network and multitudes of career lobbyists and Congressional staffers will allow him to keep pace with Appel, who has raised a lot of money and didn't have to spend much in her uncontested Democratic primary. I'm skeptical that Blum will be able to match Murphy in IA-01, even though Murphy wasn't the strongest fundraiser in the Democratic field there. I also wonder whether we'll see signs of King taking Mowrer's challenge more seriously than he has up to now.  

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Iowa reaction to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 13:23:00 PM CDT

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today in favor of Hobby Lobby's right not to provide contraception coverage in its health insurance package for employees. The Obama administration had already exempted some religious organizations and non-profits from the contraception mandate in the 2010 health care reform law. Today's ruling allows a closely-held (that is, not publicly traded) for-profit corporation to claim religious rights that override the rights of their employees, not to mention the need to comply with federal law.

You can read the full text of the Supreme Court's decision and dissents here (pdf). Justice Samuel Alito wrote the "opinion of the court," joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy. Strangely, Kennedy wrote a separate concurring opinion "in an attempt to show how narrow the Court's decision was." Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer dissented. The majority ruling appears to apply only to contraception health care services, as opposed to other medical procedures to which some groups have religious objections (such as vaccinations or blood transfusions). Still, Ginsburg seems on track when she warns that the court "has ventured into a minefield" by "approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation." Analyzing today's decision, Lyle Denniston predicted more litigation will be needed to clarify the limits of the new religious exemption for closely-held companies.

For background on the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case (formerly Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius) and the implications of the ruling, check the Alliance for Justice and SCOTUSblog websites.

After the jump I've posted comments from various Iowa elected officials and candidates. So far Iowa Democrats have been quicker to respond to the Hobby Lobby ruling than Republicans. I will update this post as needed.

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IA-01, IA-02: NRCC makes Blum, Miller-Meeks "contenders"

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

The National Republican Congressional Committee has elevated the GOP nominees in Iowa's first and second Congressional districts to the second level of their "Young Guns" program supporting challengers. Rod Blum will face former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy in the open IA-01. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will face four-term Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack for the third time in IA-02. As official NRCC "contenders," Blum and Miller-Meeks now have a chance to move up to the top level ("young guns") if they meet certain targets for fundraising and campaign organization.

Only some of the "young guns" will receive major financial assistance from the NRCC. So far, the group has reserved tv time for independent expenditures in seventeen Democratic-held U.S. House districts, none in Iowa. During the last election cycle, the NRCC paid for a small amount of advertising against Loebsack and against Representative Bruce Braley in IA-01 but never made a big commitment to either race.

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Four comments and a question about the IA-01 Democratic primary results

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 12:33:17 PM CDT

Past time for a post-mortem on the five-way Democratic primary in the open first Congressional district. Here are the unofficial results from June 3:

IA-01 Democratic primary results photo Screenshot2014-06-10at95141AM_zps4ce44fc8.png

A few thoughts struck me as I reflected on this campaign and looked more closely at the results.  

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