Republicans continue to maintain an edge over Democrats in registered voters in Buena Vista County, but the margin seems to be narrowing somewhat, perhaps as a first sign of the impact of a major Barack Obama campaign effort to get out the vote in Iowa this November.
As of early this month, there were 3,975 Republicans in BV County, compared to 3,046 Democrats. Independents still hold the trump card, with a massive cache of 4,694 local voters registered with no party.
In Iowa, the east part of the state has traditionally tended to lean liberal while the west tacks conservative. In studies dating back to the 1970s, Republicans have perennially easily outnumbered the Democrats in Buena Vista County every election.
With a current edge of 929 voters for Republicans, things are closer than they have been in years, as the margin has declined from a high of over 1,700 for the Republicans as of September 2002.
The total number of registered voters in the county is 11,715, the highest number since 1998. The modern high was 12,627 in 1980, for the heated Reagan/Carter presidential race.
Voter registrations are "creeping up," says BV Commissioner of Elections Karen Strrawn.
"The increase is noticeable enough that we can see it happening," she said. "The Obama campaign has done some door-to-door and mailed work as well in the county trying to get more people registered." Also, a women's group is having some success in getting a targeted audience of unmarried and "underrepresented" women registered. They claim to have contact with over 840 potential women voters in the county who may currently not be registered - enough to have a considerable impact at the polls.
Also, this will be the first time for a presidential election where it will be possible to register at the polls, so Strawn is uncertain how many potential new voters will wait.
"We only had a single voter register at the primaries, and we had expected more than that after the interest we saw in same-day registration at the caucuses. However, the presidential race was not involved in the primaries, so we really won't know what's going to happen until election day November 4."
In other local election news developments:
* The local Business and Professional Women (BPW) group is planning a Candidate Forum for Tuesday, October 7, 6 p.m., probably to be held at Buena Vista University. Invitations have gone out to county and state candidates, but not all have yet responded.
* A new satellite absentee voter registration Station will be opened at Buena Vista University's Science Center, also on October 7, 4-9 p.m. Election officials hope to reach college students who might otherwise have difficulty making it to the polls on election day, as well as people who may attend the Forum and wish to vote absentee.
For more information, contact the Buena Vista County Auditor's office at 749-2542 or email firstname.lastname@example.org