Obama’s Defection Count in Iowa at 15 Counties


(Google Fusion Table / IowaWatch graphic by Emily Hoerner)

 

In the end, counties with large Democratic bases overcame smaller Republican counties to help Barack Obama win Iowa’s six 2012 electoral votes for president.

Obama was successful in Iowa even though 15 counties that voted for him in 2008 went for GOP challenger Mitt Romney this time around, an IowaWatch analysis of the informal vote totals reported Tuesday showed. The count had been 16 counties but Lee County, initially reported as favoring Romney, went for Obama, Secretary of State figures now show.

Obama won a seemingly old-fashioned strategy — volume. "We expanded the electorate," Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party said Wednesday afternoon.

Polk County, in particular, helped in a big way, delivering 7,280 more votes to Obama than it did four years ago, Iowa Secretary of State's Office figures show. Scott County added 1,654 to his 2008 total.

Increases like those offset losses in other Democratic strongholds: Johnson County counted 937 fewer Obama votes than in 2008, while Black Hawk County reported 3,191 fewer Obama votes.

But the gains in larger, heavily Democratic counties helped Obama withstand losing smaller counties to Romney, the IowaWatch analysis showed.

Iowa County is one example of what happened to Obama. He took the county four years ago with 49.2 percent of the vote but Romney won the county this year with 51.6 percent. Obama's net loss: 84 votes. Delaware County favored Obama with 52.2 percent of the vote in 2008 but Romney took the county narrowly with 49.5 percent this year. It cost Obama 44 votes from his 2008 total.

Woodbury County is the only one in Iowa that sided with GOP candidate John McCain four years ago to favor Obama this year. The vote totals from Woodbury County were confusing for a short time on Wednesday. The Secretary of State's Office had Obama winning but the county auditor's site had Romney winning. Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill said the numbers showing Romney winning were rough figures that were corrected.  [Ed.note: this information was updated after confirming what happened with Gill.]

Dvorksy said Democrats began organizing in earnest for the presidential election in April 2011, while Republicans were gearing up for the grueling Iowa caucus campaign. Armed with an incumbent candidate, Democrats set up their first county offices in August 2011, she said. The focus was on the presidency and state offices, with attention also given to congressional and local races.

"This thing was about as seamless as the Democratic Party is ever going to get, as any party is going to get," Dvorsky said.

Megan Stiles, communications director for the state Republican Party, said party leaders believe they’ve made strides since 2008. Party registrations are up and Republicans took the governor’s office two years ago.

“We’ve come a long way,” Stiles said Tuesday night. “We’re still pretty focused on the state elections.”

Romney held serve for Republicans in Washington County, which narrowly supported John McCain in his Republican bid against Obama in 2008 by a slim 49.4 percent to 48.6 percent margin. Romney won 49.8 percent in the county to Obama’s 47.1 percent, unofficial results show.

“The fact is that he (Mitt Romney) is a businessman, and I think he would bring a great opportunity to the American citizens that Obama has not done in the last four years,” Rabecca Asher, 31, of Kalona said. “Normally I would vote Democratic. But in the last two elections I didn’t believe in Obama, and I can’t vote for someone I don’t believe in, so I’ve gone the other way.”

Other voters said they stuck to party lines because their party consistently lines up with their values.

“I just think they have a little more to bring to the table than the Democrats do, and that's all as far as the way I believe and the way I see that the country should be run,” Wayne Bontrager, 58, who works construction in Kalona, said after voting Tuesday.

Some counties were not going to switch sides because of their historical ties to one of the political parties. Johnson County’s 70 percent support of Obama in 2008 may have slipped to 67 percent this year but that still provided a large margin over the 31 percent Romney received this year.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Poweshiek and Story counties favored Romney after favoring Obama four years ago. Updated numbers from the Secretary of State's Office showed that Obama won those counties this year. Also, the vote totals for some candidates changed from what originally was reported when the Secretary of State's Office updated numbers.

Bye-bye Obama

The following Iowa counties flipped from President Barack Obama to the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in 2012. They are listed with the 2008 and 2012 winners and the vote percentage the winners received:

  • Adams:
    2008: Obama – 52 percent
    2012: Romney – 50.8 percent
  • Audubon:
    2008: Obama – 50.6 percent
    2012: Romney – 52.2 percent
  • Benton:
    2008: Obama – 51.5 percent
    2012: Romney – 49.5 percent
  • Carroll:
    2008: Obama – 51 percent
    2012: Romney – 52.5 percent
  • Crawford:
    2008: Obama – 51.7 percent
    2012: Romney – 53.4 percent
  • Delaware:
    2008: Obama – 52.2 percent
    2012: Romney – 49.5 percent
  • Emmet:
    2008: Obama — 51.2 percent
    2012: Romney — 53.6 percent
  • Franklin:
    2008: Obama – 50 percent
    2012: Romney – 54.5 percent
  • Greene:
    2008: Obama – 50 percent
    2012: Romney – 49.1 percent (Four votes in Tuesday's unofficial count separated Romney and Obama on Wednesday, Nov. 7)
  • Hamilton:
    2008: Obama — 49.7 percent
    2012: Romney — 50.4 percent
  • Hardin:
    2008: Obama — 49.6 percent
    2012: Romney — 52.7 percent
  • Iowa:
    2008: Obama — 49.2 percent
    2012: Romney — 51.6 percent
  • Kossuth:
    2008: Obama – 50.8 percent
    2012: Romney – 55.4 percent
  • Palo Alto:
    2008: Obama – 50.5 percent
    2012: Romney – 54.5 percent
  • Winnebago:
    2008: Obama – 53.3 percent
    2012: Romney – 49.1 percent (Two votes in Tuesday's unofficial count separated Romney and Obama on Wednesday, Nov. 7)

The Iowa Secretary of State's results for all counties can be found here.

 

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