How Phil Miller won the Iowa House district 82 special election

Democrat Phil Miller won today’s special election in Iowa House district 82 by 4,021 votes to 3,324 for Republican Travis Harris (53.8 percent to 44.5 percent). It was a larger margin of victory than Miller’s good friend Curt Hanson managed in his 2009 special election, the first state legislative race after the Iowa Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in Varnum v Brien. The results will be a morale boost for Democrats, since Donald Trump won nearly 57.8 percent of the vote in the House district 82 precincts last year, compared to just 36.4 percent for Hillary Clinton.

The 7,476 votes cast in House district 82, according to the unofficial tally, is roughly three times higher than the turnout for the special elections earlier this year in heavily Republican House district 22 and heavily Democratic House district 89. The major parties spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television commercials and direct mail to mobilize supporters of Miller and Harris (more on that spending below). On the other hand, turnout for this race was a bit lower than voter participation in Hanson’s special election win eight years ago.

Miller’s home base of Jefferson County, containing the population centers of Fairfield and Vedic City, carried him to victory.

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Phil Miller likely leads by 1,100 early votes in Iowa House district 82

Registered Democrats have returned 1,153 more ballots than Republicans in Iowa House district 82, as of today. The news will encourage supporters of Democratic nominee Phil Miller, though a strong election-day turnout by Republicans could still win the race for the GOP’s Travis Harris. In the high-profile 2009 special Iowa House election covering some of the same territory, Democrat Curt Hanson led by about 1,000 early votes and ended up winning by 107.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Judging by the unofficial results from Davis County, posted after polls closed, the person who read me those numbers over the phone appears to have transposed the Democratic and Republican totals. I have switched the numbers in the table, which decreased the overall Democratic absentee ballot lead in the district to 1,025.

Click here for the rest of the election results and my take on Miller’s big win.

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Iowa GOP's closing argument for special election: fake news, Nancy Pelosi

Iowa Republicans apparently could not find anything of substance to criticize in Dr. Phil Miller, the Democratic candidate for House district 82. With less than a week to go before the August 8 special election, the GOP has replaced their first attack ad–a misleading spot seeking to stir up fear of transgender students–with a new hit piece tying Miller to “liberal special interests in Washington” including U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

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Early votes and tv ads: the latest news from Iowa House district 82

On August 8, Iowans in three counties will elect either Democrat Phil Miller or Republican Travis Harris to succeed the late State Representative Curt Hanson. Both major parties are spending more on the House district 82 race than on any other special state legislative campaign in years.

Voter interest is relatively high. The number of early ballots requested here already exceeds the total number of votes cast in each of the last two races to fill Iowa House vacancies (House district 22 in June and House district 89 in January).

Follow me after the jump for the absentee ballot numbers as of a week before election day, and the latest television commercials for and against Miller and Harris. Spoiler alert: if you guessed that Republicans would run a misleading ad about transgender bathrooms, you were right.

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