Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, provided a review of the Iowa Caucuses this morning during his weekly meeting with reporters.
“I am really proud of Iowa and Iowans, and we had a record turnout at the Republican Caucuses last night,” Branstad says. “Even though it was cold and dark, people still came out and they participated in their precinct caucuses and they showed that the system works and Iowans take this responsibility very seriously.”
The results were not finalized until early this morning and there was some confusion in counting the votes, but Branstad says there were not major concerns. “When we have a primary election or general election we have people that the county auditors supervise and oversee, whereas here you’ve got volunteers in 1,700 precincts across the state. It’s not surprising that you would have a few little problems, but those problems were worked out,” Branstad says.
While the 122,000 caucus participants was a record, Branstad was asked if that is a proper representation of voters. He says the voters in the caucus deserve credit for taking part.
Branstad says it’s a whole different process as in a general or primary election you can request an absentee ballot, and 35% of Iowans do that, and the polls are open from seven in the morning until nine at night, giving people a lot of voting options. “You can’t do that at the caucus, you’ve got to be there in person, and you’ve got to be there on time, and it’s not just as simple as going in and casting your ballot,” Branstad explained.
There’s a lot of debate nationally over whether Iowa is a diverse enough state to be the first to start the presidential process. Branstad feels there was a lot done during these caucuses to show Iowa deserves its place in the process.
“Well first of all, we tried to spend a lot of time and a lot of effort with the national media during these last several days when they were here to show them the attributes and the benefits of Iowa. And the reaction, response I got was positive,” Branstad says.
“Some of them came here with a stereotype, but I think many of them came away with Iowa is more diverse.” He added that some national reporters also rode on RAGBRAI and found out Iowa does not fit its stereotype of being flat either. Branstad says Iowa Republicans and Democrats will continue working to ensure that the Iowa Caucuses remain first in the nation.
Listen to the entire news conference here: Branstad 26.24