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Erin Murphy

Murphy

A summer bump for Iowa Democrats dramatically closed their deficit in state voter registration.

It’s another ripple in what Democrats hope is that long-forecast blue wave in this fall’s elections.

Registered, active Republican voters in Iowa outnumber Democrats by 24,441, according to the latest data from the Iowa Secretary of State. That is down nearly half from earlier this year: Republicans in January held an advantage of 48,800 more registered, active voters than Democrats.

The gap is the lowest since before the 2016 elections. Going further back, Iowa Democrats outnumbered Republicans shortly after the 2012 presidential election. But Republicans overtook Democrats and steadily built on the advantage over the next six years.

Democratic registration took a giant leap this summer: the number of registered, active Democrats leaped by more than 28,000 voters from May to July. Meanwhile, registration figures for Republicans were flat.

The jump likely can be at least partly explained by the myriad competitive Democratic primary races earlier this year, including for the party’s candidate for governor. The primary election was in early June, just as the spike in registered Democrats began.

Democrats feel voter enthusiasm across the country and in Iowa is on their side heading into this fall’s midterm elections. They are hopeful for significant victories, including possibly overtaking majorities in the U.S. House and Iowa House.

Democrats also have history on their side: a new party in power (Republicans, in this case) typically loses seats in the first midterm election. And GOP President Donald Trump has low approval ratings, which typically translate to a drag on the party’s down-ballot races.

Republicans say they are aware of the historical trends and are doing the work to protect their majorities at the national and state levels.

Iowa Democrats’ voter registration bump this summer draws an intriguing parallel to a similar decline in no-party voters. While the number of registered Democrats jumped by more than 28,000 from May to July, the number of registered no-party voters fell by just more than 24,000.

It is not possible to know how many no-party voters during those two months changed their registration to Democratic. But the near-mirror increase in Democrats and decline in no-party voters certainly stands out.

No-party voters continue to outnumber both parties in Iowa. In the most recent data, there were nearly 705,000 registered, active no-party voters compared to more than 643,000 Republicans and nearly 619,000 Democrats.

Grassley's Diamond Jubilee

For those who enjoy round-number anniversaries, this is longtime Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s 60th year in elected office.

Grassley was first elected to the Iowa House in 1958. Grassley then was elected to the U.S. House in 1974 and the U.S. Senate in 1980.

This past week he completed his 38th annual official visit to each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government for Lee Enterprises. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.

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