Early voting totals indicate high midterm turnout

Voters fill in their ballots at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Voters fill in their ballots at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

If early voting was any indicator, Iowa saw record-breaking turnout for this year’s midterm elections.

With about one-half of the counties reporting as of late evening, about 780,000 Iowans had cast their ballots on Tuesday and in early voting. That’s of the nearly 2 million registered voters in the state.

“What we saw this time that seems to have driven up the turnout, not just here in Iowa but elsewhere, too, is that there was a huge push to get people to vote,” University of Iowa political science Professor Timothy Hagle said.

Midterm elections traditionally see a drop-off from presidential election years.

In Iowa, early votes totaled to 529,612, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, exceeding the previous state high in 2014, which drew 475,402 early votes.

Republicans cast 186,983 early votes this year — on pace with the last midterm election in 2014, when they turned out with 181,948 early votes.

Democrats, on the other hand, exceeded their 2014 early votes this year. They cast 227,487 early votes this election, as compared to the 191,036 votes cast early in the last midterm.

Early voting totals across the nation also surpassed expectation. According to the Election Project, a voter turnout database run by a University of Florida professor, around 39 million Americans cast their ballot before Election Day, as compared to the 27.2 million people in 2014.


Both Republican and Democratic parties pushed hard this year to get their constituents to the polls this election, but the voting group to watch this midterm was the no-party voters, Hagle told The Gazette on Tuesday.

Hagle said, according to state data, no-party voter turnout during midterms has remained low for the past two decades, and hasn’t risen higher than 40 percent since 1994.

It’s “political stuff” — such as the hearings to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court — that energize base voters in both parties. But if no-party voters are not concerned with their economic situation, the politics is not enough to turn them out to the polls, he added.

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