By O. Kay Henderson (Radio Iowa)
With six weeks remaining in the 2022 campaign, Iowa Republicans have about a 4.5% statewide voter registration edge over Democrats.
“Way back in 2008, the Democrats had an advantage of about 108,000 registrations and now we’re down 87,000 and that’s just a massive difference,” says Jeff Link, a consultant who’s worked for a number of Democratic candidates, including Fred Hubbell, the party’s nominee for governor in 2018.
Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann says a big turning point was in 2020, right after the Iowa Democratic Party’s presidential Caucuses.
“We just assumed there would be a bump in Democratic voter registration,” Kaufmann says. “That never happened. In fact, the gap continued to widen and it hasn’t stopped since.”
For years, independents were the largest voting block in Iowa. Flip back to the last midterm election, in 2018, and 36% of all active registered voters were independents. Link says having independents shrink from being the largest to the smallest block of voters in Iowa is significant.
“It just really shows that things are more polarized than ever,” Link says. “You know, when you’re the smaller party, that’s not good. You want it to be less polarized, so having a big number of independents, I think, is healthy for the state.”
Kaufmann says he intends for the GOP to keep its “foot on the pedal” and seek out new voters.
“I think the most irresponsible thing that I could do as a chair is assume that this is permanent and assume that this will continue on its own,” Kaufmann says. “I don’t believe that. I think Iowa is always going to have swing state tendencies. We have for the last century.”
As of September 1, 2022, there were a total of 1,859,224 active registered voters in Iowa.