LAKE MACBRIDE— Living in Iowa, I feel compelled to write about politics from time to time. It is an irresistible urge, that in many ways runs counter to preferred topics like local food, gardening, sustainability, and the like. In an effort to address this Iowa (and maybe New Hampshire) urge, here’s how things look from Big Grove Precinct, going into 2014.
For ten dollars, a person can get the voter registrations for a precinct from the county auditor. In my precinct, there are 1,305 registered voters. Of these, 499 are Democrats, 413 are No Preference, 391 are Republican, and two are coded “L” which I assume means libertarian. From 20 years of living here, and being very active in partisan politics, I know that during a general election, most people are willing split their ticket and pick who they feel is the best candidate for each position. I’ve found this to be true from the top of the ticket on down. No preference voters have become the key group to watch and work with, although not to the exclusion of others.
We moved to Big Grove in 1993 and during our first presidential election here in 1996, 1,105 people voted, with the breakout for president Clinton 599, Dole 377, Perot 105, Nader 10, Browne 1, and Hagelin 2. By 2012, there was more Republican support with these presidential results: total votes cast 1,123, Obama 555, Romney 551, Johnson 7, Litzel 1, and Stein 1.
Our county has election data available back to 1970, so if one figures out which previous elections are comparable, both turnout and the number of votes needed to win are relatively easy to determine. At the precinct level, party affiliation doesn’t lend itself very well to statistical analysis, since, as I mentioned, people are willing to split their ticket to vote for the person rather than the party.
The 2014 political schedule is as follows.
The first day of the second session of the 85th Iowa General Assembly is Monday, Jan. 13. I have been in touch with my state representative and state senator since New Year’s Day, and let them know my priorities. Now it’s up to them.
On Jan. 21 are the off-year precinct caucuses. Expect very light turnout of party activists on the Democratic side. The Republicans have made these events into a social time, so they may have more caucus-goers, but their attendance is expected to be light, like with the Democrats.
March 14 is the deadline for state and federal candidates to file for the June 3 primary. Already we know there will be Democratic primaries in the governor’s race, the county attorney and supervisor races, and probably some others. Since politics is a low personal priority this year, I won’t engage much until after the filing date. Even then, I’ll engage only enough to pick candidates in the primary.
State legislator per diem runs out on the 100th day of the session, April 22. Presumably the session will end on or about that time because legislators will want to work on the fall campaign.
After June 3, we’ll know who our candidates for the general election are, and soon thereafter we’ll also know how the Iowa Democratic Party will organize around them.
Summer is a slow time in politics, and candidates gain some visibility in parades, town festivals and events as they get out and press the flesh. Otherwise, those that aren’t known to voters work to get known.
Labor Day is the official kickoff of the fall election campaign.
In September and October, people evaluating whether to enter the 2016 presidential race will start coming to Iowa to help candidates raise money and visibility for the general election. I’ll begin talking to registered voters about the election, and start identifying them. In reviewing my list, there are a lot of new names, so it will take a while to get through them. I’ll also help out the county party as best I can.
The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
So there you have it, Iowa politics in under 700 words. In a turbulent world, taking time to figure out the timeline of political events helps organize for and maintain a level of sanity. I hope readers have found this useful. Now back to our regular programming.