On this election day, Democrats in 26 of the 31 counties in Iowa that had previously voted for former President Barack Obama and then President Donald Trump, cast more absentee ballots than Republicans.
Trump’s outsider role and his messages about America’s forgotten men and women have pleased Iowans in 2016, and the state had the highest number of pivot counties in the country. Four years later, the President has only a narrow lead over his challenger Joe Biden, and the Democrats cast more postal votes than the Republicans.
Of the total number of absentee ballots in Iowa’s 31 counties that switched from Obama to Trump, the Democrats sent nearly 30,000 more than the Republicans by Tuesday. The Democrats who voted outnumbered the Republicans by at least 20 points in 26 of the precincts, including Howard, who was the only precinct in the country to vote for Obama and Trump.
The voting rules in Iowa require that an absentee ballot be stamped by November 2 at noon and received in the district auditor’s office by noon next Monday after the election. So there is still time for Republicans to catch up, and in a state with a strong independent population, Iowa is still the state where anyone can win.
For the first time in 20 years, “non-party” voters in Iowa are trailing registered Republicans and Democrats. However, if you look at just the 31 swing counties of Iowa, it outnumbers both Republicans and Democrats by about 10,000 and 7,000 voters, respectively.
In the 13 swing counties where “non-party” voters have a majority over Republicans and Democrats, the difference is only about 2,000 voters in favor of the GOP. If there is a close race, the “impartial” voters could be the ones who turn the tide in favor of a candidate.
“Will they vote for Trump to the same extent as in 2016,” asked Tim Hagle, professor of political science at the University of Iowa, when he spoke to Washington Newsday. “It was decided for Trump, but that was somehow because they didn’t like [Hillary] Clinton and were putting a political outsider at risk.
This time Trump is running on his record as president. Hagle said that the Democrats attacking him for his response to the coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on “non-party” voters. However, it is unclear how much this will make them vote against the president.
The “non-party” voters might also consider whether they have had enough of Trump’s style and whether Biden’s Catholic background as a worker is attractive enough to change their vote from 2016, Hagle said.
Overall, Republicans in the state have an advantage over Democrats in terms of the number of registered voters, and traditionally, early voting in Iowa has favored Democrats, Hagle said. Polls show that Republicans tend to cast their votes more personally on election day, and Hagle noted that the election may depend on whether there is an increase in votes for Trump on Tuesday.