More than a month ago I put up a few political trivia questions, inspired by Chris Dodd’s ability to name the five Iowa counties that voted for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election (Dubuque, Wapello, Carroll, Chickasaw, Palo Alto).
1. How many counties did Bonnie Campbell carry during the 1994 gubernatorial election? (Sadly, I remember this all too well.)
2. What was the only Iowa county that voted for both JFK and Bonnie Campbell?
Extra credit if you can name all of the counties Bonnie carried in 1994 (without peeking).
I forgot to post the answers, so I’m putting them after the jump, along with a story about why I know the answer to the extra credit question.
Extra credit: Johnson, Story, Wapello and
Des Moines (that’s the county where Burlington is located, not the capital city) CORRECTION: The fourth county Campbell carried was Lee County in Iowa’s southeast corner.
In 1994 I spent a couple of months volunteering for Bonnie Campbell’s gubernatorial campaign while I was between jobs.
On election day my job was to cover four or five precincts in Ames. I had one of those hand-held scanners, and I would go to each polling station to scan the barcodes of the Democrats who had voted. After I covered all my polling stations, I went to some office where the information from my scanner could be downloaded, so those voters’ names could be removed from the phone bank they were using for GOTV.
Then I started the loop again. It took me a couple of hours to complete this process, and I must have done it four or five times before driving back to Des Moines. The scanners seemed really high-tech.
The 1994 campaign felt close for most of the year, but as many of you remember, there was a massive swing toward the GOP at the very end. The last Des Moines Register poll of the gubernatorial race was grim, showing the incumbent Terry Branstad with a double-digit lead over Bonnie. So I wasn’t optimistic on the morning of election day.
But as I went around my Ames precincts, the poll-watchers kept telling me that turnout was very high. That’s a good sign, considering how Democratic Story County is. I called campaign HQ to report the news, and heard that turnout was really high in Wapello County too. Wow, maybe we will surprise some people, I thought.
When the returns came in, it was a letdown to learn that Story and Wapello were two of only four counties that Bonnie carried. What can you do? It was just a bad year to run for office as a Democrat. Not a single Republican incumbent lost a gubernatorial or Congressional race in 1994.
But I never forgot those counties that stayed Democratic, even in the worst of times.