116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
By Erin Murphy, Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES - Optimism abounded in Iowa on the eve of Election Day as state leaders with the Democratic and Republican parties took turns Monday espousing visions of victory.
Most polls have shown a close race in Iowa between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Last week, Loras College showed Clinton with a 1-point lead, Simpson College/RABA Research showed Trump with a 3-point lead and the highly-regarded Des Moines Register Iowa Poll showed Trump with a 7-point lead.
'I think Iowans have spoken loud and clear once again what they think of (Clinton) and what they think of her trying to enter the White House,” said Jeff Kaufmann, the state Republican Party chairman, during a conference call with reporters.
Democrats were optimistic their campaign organization would deliver the state for Clinton.
'Our early vote is good. It's great, actually. We have people on the doors. We have people on the phones,” Andy McGuire, the state Democratic Party chairwoman, said at a news conference at the Iowa Capitol. 'We are doing an incredible job of turnout, and I do not think (Republicans) have the organization we have. And you know what that's worth in Iowa.”
Democrats, per usual, lead Republicans in early voting in the state. But they are slightly off the pace and margins compared with the presidential election of 2012.
When comparing early-voting data the day before the election in 2012 and 2016, Democrats have 8 percent fewer early votes than they did four years ago and Republicans have 1 percent more than they did then.
In 2012, Democrats had cast 66,527 more early votes than Republicans the day before the election. This year, that advantage was 42,018.
Kaufmann said hs goal was to reduce that gap to 40,000.
At this point, early votes can be measured only by the political affiliation of those who requested the ballots. Such numbers do not take into account voters who cast cross-party votes.
Leaders from both parties said they expect a close race in Iowa.
'It's going to be close in Iowa. Very close,” former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin said at the Democrats' news conference.
Races in Iowa's 1st and 3rd congressional districts also are expected to be close.
The U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic challenger Patty Judge, a former state agriculture secretary and lieutenant governor, has not been as close. Most polls have shown Grassley ahead by double digits.
Another tight competition in Iowa is for control of the Iowa Senate. Going into the election, Democrats hold 25 seats and Republicans 23, with one no-party senator.
Kaufmann said Republicans feel good about flipping the Senate from Democratic to GOP control, which would give Republicans full control of the Capitol, assuming they also maintain control of the Iowa House.
The GOP has outspent Democratics in most of the state Senate races seen as most competitive.
'Whether Iowa is turning red, I guess we're going to get confirmation of that on Nov. 9,” Kaufmann said. 'It looks a whole lot more like a red setting sun than a deep blue ocean.”