Living in Society

WYSIWYG – Primary Election

Rural Polling Place

A lot of pixel dust has been spilled about the meaning of the June 5 Iowa Democratic primary.

Read three people I follow Laura Belin, Pat Rynard and John Deeth for a perspective different from conventional news outlets. My take is simple. We are beginning to see aspects of the electorate that will shape the general election.

WYSIWYG — What you see is what you get.

What are we seeing? Here is a brief list from my perch in Senate District 37.

The minority of Democrats who participate in primaries played nice with each other most of the time. Keep that up and we’ll win in November. Many general election voters like it when people in the party play nice.

Democratic turnout was way more than expected, 176,700 votes. This is evidence what we heard at the caucus was not wrong, “we have to do something in November.” Not only did people say it, four months later they put their vote where their mouth is, beating the Democratic primary turnout in 2006 by about 20 percent.

Once the demographic information is available we’ll be able to do more numbers crunching. There really isn’t that much of a need. Results already tell the story. More voters participated in the process than in any previous Democratic primary election. What drove that? Three things: reactions the 87th Iowa General Assembly and a new president, combined with a highly qualified roster of Democratic gubernatorial candidates. To participate voters need something positive to attract them. Having good candidates shows what Democrats stand for. We had that in the primary, and I believe have that for the general election now that we know the results.

Fred Hubbell is our nominee for governor. He won a remarkable 55.5 percent (98,125 votes) of votes cast in a five-way race. It’s up to him to lead, and I believe he will. It’s up to the rest of Iowa Democratic activists to support, defend and vote for him if we want change in Iowa. There is no time for the bitter tears of losing a campaign. By this weekend’s state convention the mourning period is over. General election voters are likely to see Hubbell as qualified to be governor and that will encourage participation.

Events like the Democratic primary are an interface with the general election electorate as it is being created, long before most voters engage in general election campaigns. What you see is what you get and what I’m seeing is an electorate well on its way to being fully activated. I don’t understand the dynamics that produced the results of the June 5 primary, just like I don’t write on the internet using html code. I don’t need to. WYSIWYG.

When people participate in elections the results favor Democrats and that appears to be where we are heading.