Iowa saw high voter turnout in 2012

Nearly 70 percent of eligible voters went to the polls in November

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Iowa voters proved themselves once again to be one of the most motivated in the country.

New analysis says only four other states had a higher turnout in their voting-eligible population last November.

Nearly seven of 10 eligible voters cast ballots in the presidential race in Iowa, the fifth highest in the country, according to an analysis by the United States Election Project at George Mason University. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado and New Hampshire had a higher turnout.

Iowa typically ranks high in voter turnout, but this year’s mark matched the 2004 presidential election, which was the previous high water mark for the state. The elections project analysis says 69.9 percent of the state’s voting-eligible population cast ballots in the 2012 presidential race.

“It tells you the value of being a battleground state,” said Michael McDonald, associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University, who analyzed the data.

Nationwide, voting was down. The elections project says 58.2 percent of the country’s voting eligible population cast ballots, down from 61.6 percent in 2008.

In Iowa, activists on both sides mobilized to boost turnout. Democrats, in particular, placed a lot of emphasis on the ground game. And both parties, as well as a slew of interest groups, poured millions of dollars into television advertising in the state.

By comparison, Indiana, which was a battleground state four years ago, saw a significant dip in turnout last November, when 55.1 percent of the voting-eligible population turned out. In 2008, it was 59.1 percent. The state was not heavily contested by both presidential campaigns last year.

The 69.9 percent figure in Iowa matched what it was in 2004. Then, debate over the Iraq War motivated voters, particularly younger ones. In 2008, despite the race being a historic one, turnout was 69.4 percent of the eligible population.

Illinois, which wasn’t a battleground state, saw its turnout dip last year from what it was in 2008. Last November, 58.9 percent of Illinois’ voting-eligible population cast ballots, compared with 63.6 percent four years earlier, according to the elections project.

In a different measurement, Iowa ranked fourth in turnout among its voting-age population, behind Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. The difference between voting-age and voting-eligible population is the latter accounts for people who are ineligible to vote, including as non-citizens, felons and the mentally incapacitated.

Iowa’s turnout for the 2012 election 1,582,180 people.

More information:

The United States Election Project analysis is available by clicking here.


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