A bunch of numbers

If you’re wondering what turnout may be like for today’s Primary election, here are some numbers to ponder:

In 1994, about 300,000 Iowans cast ballots in the Republican Primary.  That was the year Republican Congressman Fred Grandy challenged then-Governor Terry Branstad.  There was lots of cross-over voting, as Democrats became Republicans for a day to vote against Branstad in June rather than wait ’til November.  Grandy came within four percentage points of Branstad in that primary.

In 1998, Branstad was not seeking reelection and there were three Republicans running for governor.  The contest was among Jim Lightfoot, Paul Pate and David Oman and Lightfoot won the G.O.P.’s 1998 nomination for governor.  About 162,000 voters cast ballots in that Republican Primary. 

In 1998, Tom Vilsack and Mark McCormick competed in the Democratic Primary for their party’s gubernatorial nomination.  About 115,000 Democrats cast ballots for that contest, which Vilsack won en route to winning the governorship that fall.

In 2002, there were three Republicans seeking the G.O.P.’s nomination for governor.  About 199,000 Republicans voted in that Primary which Doug Gross won with 35.88 percent of the vote.  Steve Sukup was second with 32.37 percent and Bob Vander Plaats was third with 31.66 percent.

In 2006, there were three Democrats running for governor.  About 148,000 Democrats voted in that contest among Chet Culver, Mike Blouin and Ed Fallon.  Culver won the Primary — and the General Election.

On January 3, 2008, Iowa Republicans held Caucuses.  Below are the numbers that were released by the party that night (the numbers are the raw straw poll vote total for each candidate).  For comparison purposes, consider that Vander Plaats’s 2010 campaign has plugged into that Huckabee network and Branstad has many Romney-connected folks working on his 2010 campaign.

Mike Huckabee  40,841     
Mitt Romney  29,949 
Fred D. Thompson  15,904     
John McCain  15,559    
Ron Paul  11,817      
Rudolph W. Giuliani  4,097         
Duncan Hunter  524 
Tom Tancredo  5

Finally, at the close of business on Friday, Iowa Republicans had cast about 20,000 absentee ballots for today’s Primary compared to about 7,000 absentee ballots from Democrats.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.