Lessons of 2018: Ending straight-ticket voting didn't change much

Fifth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.

Republicans ended straight-ticket voting in Iowa last year as part of a law imposing several new barriers for voters. For months, I’ve been trying to work out how eliminating that option would affect this year’s outcome.

More than 400,000 Iowans filled in the Democratic or Republican oval on their 2014 general election ballot, which worked out to roughly 37 percent of those who participated. I expected a much larger “undervote” for lower-profile statewide offices or legislative races this year, as many who would have voted straight ticket marked their ballots for governor and Congress alone.

That didn’t happen.

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Iowa and national 2018 election results thread

Polls just closed in Iowa, and I will update this thread frequently throughout the night as results come in. Separate posts on some of the statewide and Congressional races will be forthcoming once the outcome is clear. The Secretary of State’s website is compiling vote totals here. Anecdotal evidence suggests turnout far exceeded 2014 levels on election day.

Early voting already set a record for an Iowa midterm election. This post includes tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts from October 9 through November 6. The numbers aren’t quite final; absentee ballots can be hand-delivered to county auditors today, and ballots arriving by mail later this week can be counted with a postmark dated November 5 or earlier.

What we know: at least 538,043 Iowans voted before election day this year. The total early vote in 2014 was 465,166. Iowa Democrats cast 186,269 early ballots in 2014. As of this morning, 230,294 Democrats had already voted. Republicans cast 178,653 early ballots in 2014 and were at 189,961 this morning. Turnout among no-party Iowa voters typically drops sharply in non-presidential years. Four years ago, 99,491 independents cast ballots; the comparable number today is 114,878.

Earlier today, I reviewed the nine Iowa Senate races most likely to be competitive and 20 Iowa House races that will likely decide control of the lower chamber.

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"Fight for the best of who we are": Kamala Harris rallies Iowa Democrats

Hundreds of Iowa Democrats got their first chance to hear U.S. Senator Kamala Harris on October 22. On her first major swing through the state, the senator from California had a packed schedule, including:

  • a morning gathering with the Asian and Latino Coalition;
  • an Ankeny rally organized by Des Moines Area Community College students, also featuring Iowa House district 38 candidate Heather Matson, Iowa Senate district 19 candidate Amber Gustafson, and third Congressional district nominee Cindy Axne;
  • a late afternoon event in Indianola;
  • a private fundraiser for Axne; and finally
  • a speech to a room full of Polk County Democrats in Des Moines.
  • Though Harris is widely viewed as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, she kept her focus on the election happening November 6. I enclose below the full audio and partial transcript of the evening speech, which was similar to remarks Harris delivered earlier in the day.

    Whereas some politicians tend to use convoluted, run-on sentences, Harris was striking in how she used simple sentence construction and repetition to great effect.

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    Politico calls Rob Sand a "young Robert Mueller"

    I wholeheartedly agree with Ed Fallon: grassroots activists are excited about the Democratic candidates for state auditor and secretary of state. -promoted by desmoinesdem

    The excitement around November 6 is above and beyond what we normally experience leading up to an off-year election. Coast to coast, young, progressive candidates are fueling that excitement — as is growing discontent over President Trump’s reign of error. Even conservative voters are pulling away from the Tweeter in Chief over his:

    — Escalating trade war with China,
    — Support for pipelines and fracking,
    — Belief that “eminent domain is a wonderful thing,” and
    — Lack of a moral compass.

    In Iowa, two candidates firing up voters are Rob Sand, running for state auditor, and Deidre DeJear, running for secretary of state. Check out the great story about Rob and Deidre in Politico this week — and the entertaining comparison of Rob to Robert Mueller.

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