The Iowa Democratic Party has an uphill battle ahead of it if it desires to unseat Gov. Kim Reynolds and reclaim Terrace Hill. Republicans have controlled the Governor’s office since 2011, with Reynolds taking office in 2017 when former Governor Terry Branstad resigned after being confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Ambassador to China. Democrats held the Governor’s office 12 years prior.
First, Republicans expanded their statewide voter registration lead after the June primary. They gained 24,749 registered voters bringing their total to 681,871. In contrast, Democrats gained 5,380 new registered voters with 597,120 registered voters. There are 555,988 “no party voters” after the June primary, a decline of 22,359. Primaries in Iowa are closed, so you have to be a registered Republican or Democrat to vote in that party’s primary.
Republicans in July currently have a voter registration advantage of 84,751.
In contrast, at the same time in 2018, when Iowa Democrats saw gains in the Iowa House and Congress and lost a closer gubernatorial race (compared to 2010 and 2014 as Kim Reynolds defeated Fred Hubbell by a little more than 36,000 votes), Democrats saw more significant gains after the June primary picking up 24,189 additional registered voters (a total of 618,388) as Republicans picked up only 3,479 more registered voters (a total of 642,827).
Democrats closed the gap further. In November 2018, Republicans only had a 22,514 voter registration advantage statewide.
Second, there also appears to be a slight enthusiasm gap. In June, Republicans saw a greater turnout for the primary, with 198,858 Republicans voting compared to 158,745 Democrats voting in their primary. Democrats in 2018 had a clear enthusiasm advantage after the primary, seeing 182,736 voting in their primary compared to only 105,183 Republicans voting in their primary.
Third, Reynolds leads her Democratic challenger Deidre DeJear in the most recent Iowa Poll conducted by Seltzer & Co. on behalf of The Des Moines Register. In the latest poll conducted of 597 likely voters on July 10-13, Reynolds leads by 17 points – 48 percent to 31 percent. Five percent say they back Libertarian candidate Rick Stewart. Reynolds’ approval rating is back above 50 percent as well.
Reynolds widened her lead compared to the Iowa Poll conducted on February 28 through March 3, when she only had an eight-point lead.
Fourth, Reynolds also has a tremendous fundraising advantage over DeJear.
According to her latest disclosure report, Reynolds raised $633,024.33 since the primary and now has $5.2 million in the bank. In contrast, DeJear only raised $255,746 during the same period and only has $503,314.54 in the bank, woefully inadequate for a gubernatorial race.
No one is predicting this election to be a competitive race.