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Early Voting On Track With 2014 Levels, Democrats Boost Turnout

Thomas Hawk via flickr creative commons
Early voting in Iowa is on track to match or surpass 2014 levels.

Iowa’s statewide early vote numbers are on track to match or surpass 2014 levels. As of Friday afternoon, state numbers show returned ballots are about 96 percent of the way to the 2014 totals.

Central College political scientist Andrew Green says that’s despite a smaller window for early voting this election.

“Considering that the early vote window was actually shortened by 10 days in this cycle, I’d say the get out the vote, get out the early vote efforts of both Republicans, the Republicans and the Democrats have been successful in trying to make up...make up ground in 10 fewer days,” Green said. 

State numbers show Democrats are returning absentee ballots at higher rates this cycle. As of November 2nd, they have about a 7.9 point edge over Republicans, compared to about a 1.7 point edge at this point in 2014.

But those leads in returned ballots vary at the congressional district level, where Democrats seem to be making some inroads in competitive races, at least in absentee voting.

In the 1st District, Democrats have a 13.9 point edge, compared to 7.8 points at this point in 2014. In the 3rd District, Democrats have a 10.4 point edge, compared to 1 point in 2014. Republicans still lead returned ballots in the 4th District, by 10 points, which is down from 12.9 points in 2014.

Apart from returning ballots at higher rates in the 3rd District, thousands more Democrats are simply voting early than at this point in the 2014 midterms. As of November 2nd, 54,570 had returned their absentee ballots, up from 38,928 on October 30th of 2014 (the Thursday before that year's Election Day).

The race in southwest Iowa between incumbent U.S. Rep. David Young and challenger Cindy Axne is thought to be one of the most competitive on the ballot. Central College's Andrew Green says that’s showing up in early voting.

“There has been at least a minimal surge in early voting for…by Democrats in the 3rd Congressional District. And we don’t see that gap, that large of a gap in the other two competitive congressional districts.”

Historically, Democrats tend to vote early at higher rates than Republicans, who are more likely to have a larger turnout on Election Day.

But Iowa doesn't seem to be seeing the astronomical surge in early voting that other states are. As of Friday afternoon, Texas voters are poised to surpass their 2014 total turnout just in early voting alone. An analysis by the U.S. Elections Project shows Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and Tennessee are also at 150 percent of their 2014 early vote turnout or greater.