“I’m guessing average to below average,” says Iowa Republican Party chairman Carroll.
Iowa Democratic Party chairman Scott Brennan is slightly more optimistic.
“I think it’ll probably be an average turn-out,” Brennan says.
Republicans had a down-to-the-wire contest in 2002 for the party’s nomination for governor and over 200,000 votes were cast in that primary. Carroll does not expect that many Republicans to vote today.
“With the interest in the U.S. Senate race I would like to think and hope that we would have above-average turnout, but there aren’t any big names in that race,” Carroll says. “Unlike 2010, we don’t have a hotly-contested gubernatorial primary.”
In 2010, 230,000 Republicans voted in the primary when Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts challenged Terry Branstad’s bid to return as Iowa’s governor. This year, with a five-person race for the Republican Party’s U.S. Senate nomination and a six-person race for the GOP’s nomination in Iowa’s third congressional district, there is the chance a candidate will fail to cross the 35 percent threshold needed to secure the nomination. If that happens, Carroll will be organizing nominating conventions.
“We’ll be waiting anxiously to get word from the secretary of state’s office regarding the results on the senate and the third district and the others, too,” Carroll says. “I mean there’s a contested primary in the others, but it’s just not as crowded.”
Three Republicans are running in the first congressional district and two Republicans are running in the second district. Brennan’s Democratic Party has a five-person contest in the first congressional district.
“People are pretty interested in the first district race and I think we’ll have a pretty good turn-out there,” Brennan says. “Maybe a little bit of proof of that is in vote-by-mail (Democrats) are 3000 ahead of Republicans at this point, with far fewer contested races.”
The highest turnout for an Iowa Democratic Party Primary in the past decade was in 2006 when over 150,000 Democrats voted. That was when Chet Culver, Michael Blouin and Ed Fallon were competing for the party’s gubernatorial nomination.
Both Brennan and Carroll voted early this morning at their precincts in Des Moines and Grinnell.
Turnout in similar primary elections this century
2012: about 133,000 Republicans & fewer than 60,000 Democrats
2010: about 230,000 Republicans & just over 73,000 Democrats
2008: about 105,000 Democrats and nearly 86,000 Republicans
2006: about 152,000 Democrats and over 85,000 Republicans
2004: more than 88,000 Republicans and over 76,000 Democrats
2002: over 206,000 Republicans and about 97,000 Democrats
Recent primary turnout as a percentage of active registered voters