A few thoughts on turnout in the Congressional primaries

I have not seen estimates for the percentages of registered voters in each party who turned out today, but I have a few thoughts on turnout based on the election results.

The campaigns of Congressman Leonard Boswell and Ed Fallon mobilized a lot of voters in the third district. Boswell received just over 20,000 votes, and Fallon received about 13,000. Turnout of 33,000 in this district is not bad at all for a Congressional primary. By way of comparison, 38,000 Democrats in the third district cast votes in the 2006 gubernatorial primary.

In the fourth district Congressional primary, turnout was much lower. It looks like fewer than 18,000 people cast votes on the Democratic side. Becky Greenwald is headed to victory with about 51 percent of the vote, which is impressive in a four-way race. But she has a lot of work ahead of her, because it does not appear that fourth district Democrats were highly energized about choosing an opponent for Tom Latham.

Naturally, it is easier to mobilize voters in the third district, which has only 12 counties and most of the residents concentrated in Polk County. Also, one would expect six-term Congressman Boswell and former state representative and gubernatorial candidate Fallon to have an easier time turning out voters, because of past campaigns they have run.

The fourth Congressional district spans 28 counties over a huge geographical area. In addition, none of the Democratic candidates running against Latham had held elective office before. They didn’t start their campaigns with large numbers of people having already voted for them at least once, the way Boswell and Fallon did.

I am not trying to take away from Greenwald’s achievement. I only want to point out that Democrats will need to engage many more fourth district voters if we are to have any chance of unseating Latham.

By the way, in the second district, Republican turnout in the three-way race to challenge Congressman Dave Loebsack was just under 17,000 votes. I do not expect Mariannette Miller-Meeks to mount a strong challenge to Loebsack.

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