Here are the latest figures out of Iowa. And I have discovered that the Iowa sos website absolutely rules! Why does it rule? Iowa actually does full reports on what percentage of each political party and/or gender voted and publishes the reports a few months after each election. It is extremely instructive and useful to have these reports, for turnout reasons.
Another bit of good news: We have finally reached another point where we can do a comparison to the 2008 numbers. Also, we can do a comparison to the 2004 numbers as well. And finally, exit polls really suck. You are going to see why in a moment.
Here are the numbers for the absentee ballot requests:
Dems 250,398 (44.24%)
Reps 175,111 (30.94%)
Inds 139,813 (24.70%)
Oth 664 (negligible)
Here are the new ballot requests since the last report:
Democrats trounced Republicans in this particular daily report for ballot requests. The percentage of Republicans who requested absentee ballots actually fell five hundredths of a percentage point since the last report. Republicans edged us in the last daily report, but Democrats were ahead of Republicans for six straight reports before that, so it must have been an aberration.
And now, here are the numbers for actual ballots cast:
Dems 183,780 (45.96%)
Reps 126,872 (31.73%)
Inds 88,756 (21.20%)
Oth 450 (negligible)
Here are the ballots cast since the previous daily report:
Republicans got within about 250 ballots of Democrats three reports ago. Two reports ago, Democrats cast about 350 more ballots than Republicans. In the previous report, Democrats cast over 500 more ballots than Republicans. In this report, Democrats are ahead by over 600 ballots cast, so this is a decent trend. Democrats currently lead Republicans by 56,908 in ballots cast. Democrats have led Republicans in ballots cast in every single individual daily report since early voting began.
And now, we have reached another benchmark where we can look back at 2008 and make some sort of apples to apples comparison.
At the 400,000 ballots cast mark, here is what we looked like in 2008:
Democrats were ahead by about 79,000 ballots cast in the early voting period as of 400,000 total ballots being cast in 2008. Democrats were also ahead by about 20 percentage points. Currently we are ahead by about 57,000 ballots cast and 14 percentage points, so this does represent a drop from 2008. Still, you have to remember that the Republicans had a contested primary this year and we did not. So you had Democrats registering as Republicans so they could vote in the caucuses.
Now let's have a look at the total early voting numbers from 2004. Why would we do that? Because Iowa was basically a draw in 2004, so any improvement from those numbers represents a good chance of winning for our side.
2004 total absentee ballots cast, including early, in-person voting:
Dems 193,766 (42.12%)
Reps 141,196 (30.69%)
Inds 125,097 (27.19%)
So Democrats led Republicans by 52,570 ballots cast at the end of the early voting period and by about 11.5 percentage points in 2004.
Now, let's have a look at the total absentee ballot numbers from 2008, incuding early, in-person voting:
Dems 250,104 (45.86%)
Reps 156,986 (28.78%)
Inds 138,328 (25.36%)
So at the end of the early voting period in 2008, Democrats were ahead of Republicans by a whopping 93,118 ballots cast and about 17 percentage points. I don't see us doing those kinds of numbers this time around, but if we can get significantly ahead of where we were in 2004, that would be a good sign for us.
Now, let's take a glimpse at why exit polls suck so bad. In 2008, the exit poll for Iowa showed the partisan breakdown as follows:
In terms of votes actually cast, here was the REAL partisan breakdown:
Dems 568,377 (37.21%)
Reps 491,342 (32.17%)
Inds 467,762 (30.62%)
I suppose a lot of Dems could have calling themselves Indies in the exit polls. After all, it's quite possible that a lot of Indies registered as Democrats that year so they could vote in our caucuses.
Another very noteworthy point is this: even though we won Iowa by a large margin, Republicans voted in higher percentages than we did. According to this report, 80% of registered Republicans in Iowa voted, whereas only 78% of Democrats did. But there were a lot more registered Democrats than Republicans. In any case, this destroys the idea that somehow Republicans weren't motivated to vote. Republicans always vote. They are braindead zombies who are PROGRAMMED to vote. That is why we have to have such a clear numberical advantage, because we are not quite as good at the voting thing as Republicans, but we're getting better at it.
Ultimately, I believe Obama will win Iowa, but the margins will probably be rather small.
Now, let's take a look at a particular county so we can compare early voting numbers from past elections. The county I selected is Johnson County, a strongly Democratic County that includes Iowa City.
Johnson County early/absentee numbers
Dems 14,043 (57.72%)
Reps 4,014 (16.50%)
Inds 6,272 (25.78%)
Dems 23,238 (57.85%)
Reps 6,011 (14.96%)
Inds 10,921 (27.19%)
Dems 16,497 (53.32%)
Reps 5,434 (17.56%)
Inds 9,008 (29.12%)
So as we can clearly see, our 2012 numbers from this strongly Democratic county are not as rosy as they were in 2008, but still quite a bit better than 2004. Of course, early voting hasn't ended yet, so I will do an apples to apples comparison near the end of early voting.
Here is a link to the full 2008 voting report from the Iowa sos: http://sos.iowa.gov/...
You can hunt around the Iowa sos website to look at all these different reports. It's amazing.
And here is a link to the 2008 early voting report, as of the 400,000 vote mark: http://web.archive.org/...