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October 31st, 2012

Early Voting Numbers: Democrats Heading in the Wrong Direction

By Craig Robinson

Iowa Democrats always get a lot of good press when early voting begins.  They tout how many requests for absentee ballots they have compared to Republicans, and the media eats it up and asks for seconds.  The only problem is that requests don’t count, only returned ballots do.  Despite what you hear on the news or from the talking heads, Democrats are not dominating when it comes to early voting.  In fact, they are trending in the wrong direction.

Absentee Ballots Returned from October 1 to October 29

Percentage of Total Ballots Received from Democrats:
62% (Oct 1), 59% (Oct 8), 51% (Oct 15), 47% (Oct 22), 44% (Oct 29)

Percentage of Total Ballots Received from Republicans:
20% (Oct 1), 23% (Oct 8), 29% (Oct 15), 31% (Oct 22), 32% (Oct 29)

Percentage of No Party Ballots Received:
17% (Oct 1), 18% (Oct 8), 19% (Oct 15), 21% (Oct 22), 23% (Oct 29)

Democrats have seen their percentage of total returned absentees go from 62 percent to 44 percent in the last month, while the percentage of total ballots received from Republicans and no party absentee ballots has increased.  At 44 percent, Democrats are exactly where they were in absentee ballots returned at the end of the 2010 election.  Democrats got throttled that year losing the governor’s office, the majority in the Iowa State House, and they almost lost the state senate.  They are also behind when you compare this year’s early votes to 2008 early votes.  That year, Democrats accounted for 47 percent of the absentee ballots, and bested Republicans by an 18-point margin in the absentee ballot count.

The margin this year currently stands at 12 percent, which is substantially better than it was for Republicans in 2008.  As mentioned above, Republicans and no party absentees continue to rise in terms of percentage of total early votes actually returned.

Democrats are expected to have more total early votes cast than Republicans, but what’s important to watch is the margin between Republicans and Democrats, as well as the total number of early votes and how it compares to previous election cycles.  In both of those regards, Iowa Republicans seem to be in good shape.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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