Three times as many Democrats as Republicans have submitted requests for an absentee ballot in Iowa, according to numbers released by the Secretary of State's Office today. Early voting begins on September 23, and so far Iowa county auditors have received 33,017 absentee ballot requests from registered Democrats, 11,785 from Republicans and 8,811 from no-party voters. We can't tell which direction those independents are leaning; both Democratic and Republican campaigns have been trying to identify supporters not registered with either party.
Democrats will be pleased by their early lead, but only a small percentage of Iowa voters (perhaps 5 percent of the electorate) have submitted absentee ballot requests already. About 1.05 million Iowans cast ballots in the 2006 general election.
Iowa Democrats had a successful early voting program in 2008, which saved several state legislative seats. How well they replicate that program could make the difference in some of the battleground state House and Senate districts. Banking votes early leaves fewer voters who need to be contacted by phone or at the door. It also reduces the number of people who could be swayed by last-minute attack ads and mailers against Democratic candidates. Since early summer, Democratic candidates and volunteers have brought absentee ballot request forms with them while canvassing. Some Democrats who have voted absentee in the past have received mailings that include the request form.
Iowa Republicans are doing more early GOTV this year than in the past. I've been told Terry Branstad and his running mate Kim Reynolds recorded robocalls urging Republicans to vote by absentee, and the Branstad campaign produced a glossy direct-mail piece including a request form. I don't know whether that was mailed to a large voter population or only to people who responded to the robocall that they would like to vote by absentee.
After the jump I've posted the full press release from the Secretary of State's Office. The official website will update numbers for absentee ballots requested every weekday from now through the end of the campaign.Continue Reading...