Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bill Would Slash Early Voting From Six Weeks To Two

Iowa would cram all its in-person early voting into just two weeks under legislation introduced today.

Senate File 339 sponsored by Rick Bertrand (R-SUX) would move the first day of in person early voting, at the auditor's office or satellite sites, from the current 40 days before the election to just 15 days out.

It would also cut off vote by mail requests 15 days before the election, which is stricter than the 10 days out proposed under Secretary of State Paul Pate's "Voter Integrity" (sic) bill, and far stricter than the current four day cutoff.

Restrictions on early voting days are often the next step in voter suppression after ID laws.

While it's not clear yet whether Bertrand's bill has any traction, it confirms what I have feared for weeks: that Pate's bill is just the tip of the iceberg and that additional election restrictions will be proposed. Also in the mix are Sandy Salmon's House File 150, which would end election day registration, and Brad Zaun's bill that proposes a stricter voter ID standard than Pate's plan.

Bertrand's bill also includes an unworkable deadline for overseas voters. The federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) requires overseas ballots to ship out 45 days before a federal election. Bertrand would push that back to 60 days - just three days after the final date for county candidates to withdraw. That would make programming, printing, and testing ballots impossible - and for little real gain, since the overwhelming majority of overseas voters choose to have their ballots emailed. (Almost all have to print and mail them back.)

So with the ballots ready earlier, why not let people vote them?

I've looked at numbers for my county. We've long been the heaviest early voting county in Iowa; in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016 we had more early votes than election day votes. We also had the biggest Democratic margins all of those years, which Rick Bertrand may have noticed. Here's how the 2016 numbers break down.

Johnson County had 43,092 absentee requests, between mail, office voters, and satellite voters. 41,795 early votes counted. Numbers won't match up perfectly; this is about big picture. Some ballots never come back, some people made errors that kept them from getting counted, and some people turned them in unvoted and voted at the polls. Also, provisional ballots get added into the absentee totals.

Office voters

We had 17,764 total voters at office, from 40 days out through the day before the election, on a total of 31 voting days. Overall average was 573 a day.

7316 of those were early-early, from 40 days out through 18 days out (a Friday, we were closed that weekend). That's 17 total days averaging 430 voters a day. These would not be allowed under Bertrand’s bill.

Some of that is people with their mind made up, and they're doing the late-early voters a favor by getting their business done and getting out of the way before the late deciders showed up. Some of that was people leaving town, who would be in transit those last couple weeks.

Another 10,446 voters came to the office from 15 days out through the day before the election, over 14 total voting days. (We were open two Saturdays as required by law, and the final Sunday by our choice). Some of those days included evening hours. That's an average of 746 per day, peaking at over 1800 the day before the election. We were using every square foot of building space, every body, every parking space, and every computer that was available, and a few that weren't.

Assuming everybody who preferred voting at the auditor's office still votes at the office, and we have to cram those 7316 earliest voters from the first 3 1/2 weeks into final two weeks, we would average 1269 a day. That’s busier than we were any single day except the final day’s 1800+. . (Our second busiest day was Friday before the election at 898.) More realistically, this would ramp up, from 1000 or so the first day to 2500 the last.

That's more time for voters to wait, and more workers to hire - because spreading the work over six weeks means we can keep the same people working more days and getting more efficient at the job

Satellite Voting

I still expect a move to ban satellite voting outright. The only proposal thus far is another bill which would require sites to be in cities of over 200 population. All Johnson County cities would qualify... but this would rule out rural sites. We've had a couple over the years.

SF339 would also ban satellite sites before 15 days out, cramming more workload into the final two weeks.

We've scaled back a little but Johnson County still has the most robust satellite schedule in the state. Three of our 2016 sites, with 935 voters, were before the 15 day period.

584 of that was at our traditional "Early Bird Day" on the very first day of voting at the Iowa City Public Library. Obviously, that kind of kickoff event would be out.

Mail

The language in Bertrand’s bill is a bit unclear about the first day for requests. He seems to think the old law that barred requests more than 70 days before the election is still in effect. It was repealed in 2004, and now the law is infinity. Pate's bill would make that 120 days and frankly that's the one thing in his bill I support. Under current law too many people move after they request ballots, and that causes a lot of problems. The only people who really need to request that early are overseas voters who are covered by federal law.

The early end is not the problem. The back end is the issue. Bertrand would cut off requests 15 days out.

Johnson County had 1783 domestic mailed ballot requests from 14 days out until 4 days out, the cutoff date under current law. 1477 of these were returned, and 1414 were counted. That includes 669 ballots requested less than 10 days out, which Pate's bill would ban. 485 of those were returned and 451 counted. Obviously there's a diminishing return, but that's still a large precinct's worth of voters.

Some of those late requests are procrastinators. But some are shut-ins or travelers or people who get interested late and have no other options.

SUMMING UP

10,034 Johnson County early voters, close to a quarter, would at the very least have to change their voting behavior:
  • 7316 office voters more than 15 days out. Some of that moves to mail, which is less reliable than in person voting. People make mistakes and forget to sign stuff, things get lost in the mail. My rule of thumb is 10 office votes is 10 votes, but 10 vote by mail requests is 9 votes. 
    Some of those office voters move into the back of the line, either at the auditor's office or at the polling places. How many of those people can't wait in the longer lines?
  • 1783 voters who requested mailed ballots less than 15 days out, 1414 of that counted. A lot of that unfortunately becomes non-votes.
  • 935 satellite voters more than 15 days out. Most of that moves to another line; some of that vote (especially the dorm we visited this year) gets lost.
That’s on top of the 5212 Johnson County election day registration votes that are at risk under HF150. So now we're up to over 15,000 Johnson County votes at risk, out of 77,000 total votes.

This hurts everybody... but it hurts the number one Democratic county more than anyone else. Which is exactly the point.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Partisan Spin on Election Cleanup Bill

A small item in an election bill has gotten a lot of attention the past couple days, and that attention has all come with a suspiciously similar partisan spin.

House Study Bill 78 is not the much more high profile “Voter Integrity” (sic) bill promoted by Secretary of State Paul Pate that includes voter ID requirements. HSB78 is instead what’s usually called the “technical bill.” Most years, a bill like that comes up to fix non-controversial or administrative items.

HSB78 includes a new requirement that campaigns that collect voter registration forms turn the forms in within a week of collecting them, and within 72 hours during the last 40 days. That’s similar to current law regarding absentee requests. It also created a new code violation called “organizational noncompliance.”

There are several other items in the bill that are more substantive, including changes in how some ballot vacancies and nursing home ballots are handled.

But the attention has all been on the registration form clause, and always with a similar headline to Ryan Foley’s AP piece: “Iowa bill outlaws voter form delays, in rebuke of Democrats.” The backstory:
It's a response to the Democratic Party's submission of 66 incomplete forms in Johnson County several weeks after they were collected...
Democratic Party organizers collected the forms in Johnson County, the state's most Democratic, in August and September. But they had defects such as missing signatures and workers tried to contact voters to get them to make corrections.

The party submitted them Oct. 26 with an explanation to Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert. Current law doesn't set a deadline for submitting registration forms, but the deadline to get registered before Election Day was Oct. 29. Voters can register at the polls but must have identification.
I hesitate to give this more attention but I’m a bit player in this drama: I'm the dude who had to process those forms once they were turned in. (I assume everyone reading knows but for full clarity I've worked in the Johnson County auditor's office for 19 years.) That was part of our normal work flow. At non-crunch time I do most of the routine data entry. At crunch time temps do most of it. I help train and supervise them, and I get the problems and the complicated stuff.

Tracking down problem registrations and requests takes a lot of time and has a low success rate. We have far more than any other county because of the nature of our community – a lot of young people who have never voted before and who move every year.

I’ve instructed campaign staffers of both parties, at work and on my own time, for literally decades on how to properly complete forms.  And I, like office staffers in many counties, recommended that campaign staffers follow up with voters and help fix problems, and then  bring forms in after a reasonable effort. And, as we see from the fact a change is proposed, current law doesn’t set a hard deadline on registrations like it does for absentee requests.

Staffers are only as good as the weakest volunteer. If a volunteer doesn’t get their packet back to HQ on time, or doesn’t catch the mistakes at the door, the staffer is stuck with it - and in the end I’m stuck with it.

The task had probably gotten lower and lower in priority because they were a garbage pile of un-fixable problems.  I assume they literally got buried on a desk. In the week before the pre-registration deadline, the marching orders from state HQ to the staffers were to do a full check of the office before the pre-registration deadline – for exactly this reason.  Frankly, it would have been easier for them to have just thrown them away; we would have never known. But they didn’t. They brought them in with an explanation and an apology.

I had a problem pile at the office too, sorted and full of post-its: “Letter sent 10/18- Elvised. 10/24 voter says will come in to office. Email 10/23. Left VM 10/22, again 10/27.” A couple times a week I went through it, checked the voter system to see if the problem was fixed, and made additional contact efforts where I could. Some got fixed. Some never did. Some people fill out forms without even intending to vote because they just want the doorknocker to go away.

Since I was in charge of the office's garbage pile, I got handed the Dems’ garbage pile when it came in. I can’t find exact numbers but maybe a third had successfully registered by the time we got the forms. There were a few more I could fix where the problem was a missing ID number that I was able to hunt down on the state voter system.

What was left was the worst of the worst. Parent’s addresses out of state (a common mistake because students are permanently confused as to how they should list their addresses). No addresses at all. Illegible names. No names at all. I was able to track down UI email addresses for some.  I sent letters where I could. I sent letters to parent's addresses. I called the same bad phone numbers the staffers had called.

There were some where I could do nothing at all. Can’t remember if it was in this pile, but I’ve seen forms turned in with nothing but an illegible signature. The only difference if these forms had come in earlier is that they would have been in my garbage pile sooner instead of the campaign’s.

Maybe you think that’s worth changing the law.

When I read the bill I spotted this change and knew exactly why it was there. If the law is changed, the campaigns will adapt, though the threat of "organizational noncompliance" may intimidate some volunteer, non-campaign organizations out of doing registration drives. But it won't really HELP anything, because there’s no incentive for campaigns to sit on registration forms.

There have been other bills designed to deal with specific field staff issues. The law requiring campaigns to turn in absentee requests within 72 hours was passed because in 2002 the Democrats had made a stupid decision. They turned in requests staggered and sorted by precinct, so they could chase ballots by precinct. (“We’re bringing in Iowa City 16 requests  on Monday, so we’re calling Iowa City 16 Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday we bring in precinct 17 and we call them Friday.”) So we got forms signed in June turned in during October.

I liked that change because it gave us more time to work and fix problems and because it got ballots to voters faster. Though there’s still a hole in the law, which is repeated in this bill: three-day holiday weekends are more than 72 hours long and the poor staffers stress out about it. Just add a line about “next business day.”

We also had the god-awful “courier” law from the 2004 and 2006 cycles, which limited who could pick up and return voted ballots and created a lot of extra paperwork and busywork for both campaigns and auditors. It was passed because an exhausted staffer, again here in Johnson County, had dropped the ball on bringing in the ballots they’d chased the night before the election. It accomplished nothing and I was happy to see that one repealed.

The fishy part of HSB78 is why this particular, relatively minor item in what is usually a low profile bill has been rolled out to the press in such a big way.

In part, it seems timed to distract from the Dallas County debacle where nearly 6000 absentee ballots were not reported. The Secretary of State's office is not the main culprit here, but they should have noticed the problem sooner than February.

But we all know the main reason. It's to push Pate's "voter integrity" agenda by creating the illusion of “fraud,” or shady activity, around the Democrats. 

That’s a completely different bill, and the press and the public need to be able to separate the issues.  There’s nothing in this honest staffer mistake that voter ID would have “fixed,” and voter IDs will do much more to reduce access to the voting booth than an illegible form turned in late.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Back To The Future IV: The Dallas County Election Canvass

Dallas County may need these guys to fix their election results.




The Des Moines Register reported yesterday that 5842 absentee ballots had not been included in the county's canvass report to the state. That was 13% of the total Dallas County vote, and a third of the absentee vote. Reaction has been swift and strong, with Iowa Starting Line's Pat Rynard calling for the resignation of auditor Julia Helm (who was just elected last November but was a long time election office staffer before that).

Aside from the mistake itself, the legal question is how to amend the state canvass to include those 5842 votes "count" on the permanent historic record. Based on my experience, that may not be easy or even possible without charging the flux capacitor to 1.21 jiggawatts, getting the DeLorean up to 88, and going back to the day before the canvass.
       
Johnson County made a similar mistake, which was much smaller and discovered much sooner, in 2004. At the time, we were told by the Secretary of State's office that the state canvass deadline was absolute and the votes could not be counted.

I also found some small canvass discrepancies in 2006, while researching turnout by county. Two small counties appeared to have entered their total voter registration in a space where they should have entered the total number of votes cast. (The actual vote counts were correct, but this created the statistical illusion of 100% turnout and an absurdly high number of under votes.) Again, I was told at the time that the state canvass was absolute, permanent and final.

The 2016 election calendar required counties to hold their canvass on Monday, November 14 or Tuesday the 15th. The deadline to file for a recount was the 17th or 18th, three days post-canvass. Canvass reports were then due to the Secretary of State by Monday, November 21, and the state canvass was due to be completed by December 5.

I personally think it would be best to find a way to get the Dallas County votes on the final official record. I'm not a lawyer, but that might be hard. The question is: how do you allow for the correction of a serious but apparently honest mistake, without simultaneously opening cans of worms that leave election results in limbo forever?

The other big question is did how nobody - office staff, campaigns, the news media, or election returns geeks - noticed that Dallas County's absentee ballot totals were implausibly low until February?

The Secretary of State's office was frequently updating absentee ballot numbers by county in the run-up to election day. Their last report shows 18,527 Dallas County absentee ballots returned. The canvass report shows Dallas County with 12,566 absentee votes in the presidential race.

Compare that to similar sized Pottawattamie County, which saw 18,108 absentees returned and reported 17,980 absentee votes for president, a much more plausible ratio and a much more typical ratio. I mean, you get SOME absentee ballots that can't be counted, and SOME people who skip the top of the ballot contest, but not a third of the returned ballots.

The auditor's office should have caught it, of course. But if we had a functional and sufficiently staffed journalism system, whoever was assigned the Number Crunching Story (which professionals used to do but only bloggers write anymore) would have seen it. Campaign staffers obsessively track request and return numbers, yet no one staring at a VAN report in the week between election night and the canvass caught it either.

And if it had been caught before the canvass it would have been much easier to fix.

Flashing back to our own experience in 2004: As you recall the national race, and the Iowa race, were both razor-thin that cycle. Iowa was decided by about 4000 votes, so every little advantage counted.

Our office was blindsided the day before the election by an unprecedented, and thankfully as yet unrepeated, mass challenge of absentee ballots led by one of the local Republicans. Over 2000 ballots were challenged, many on spurious grounds, in an effort that was so over the top that the law actually got changed in 2007 to narrow the reasons for which ballots could be challenged.

The absentee room is confusing enough as it is, and on top of normal confusion we had this extra layer of contentiousness. (The absentee room is part of my job now but wasn't in 2004.)

To make the long story shot, a batch of challenged and provisional ballots, 121 to be precise, got checked and were determined to be OK. They were then set aside to get counted. Someone fumbled the ball and didn't get them opened and fed through the machine. Once the canvass was finished and reported to the state, and the recount period had passed, we started cleaning up... and found them.

Then-auditor Tom Slockett  wanted to get the votes counted, so we contacted the Secretary of State's office. We were instructed that since the canvass was already complete and the canvass deadline had passed, we were not legally able to count the votes. Slockett ignored the instructions and did it anyway, calling the second canvass a "Report Of Ballot Information." There is still a discrepancy of 121 total voters between the official 2004 state canvass and the Johnson County canvass. Hopefully, the Secretary of State and Dallas County find a better way to fix the records this time.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Good Cop, Bad Cop on Iowa Election Bills

On the surface, Secretary Paul Pate's "Voter Integrity" bill is a deceptively mild voter ID bill. But when paired with other proposals, it would allow voters to use only a very narrow set of documents. One proposal sponsored by 10 House Republicans would end election day registration (EDR) in Iowa, and in the process limit the types of IDs that could be used under Pate's bill.

A draft of Pate's bill, which has still not been officially filed or released 26 days after his roll-out press conference (UPDATE: now posted), first surfaced early this morning at Bleeding Heartland, along with two other, less controversial bills from his office.

The core of the bill specified that the acceptable voter IDs are:
  • An Iowa (only) license or non-driver ID. (These are also issued by DOT and are functionally the same. From here on out when I say "license" I also mean "non-driver ID");
  • a passport;
  • a military or veteran's ID;
  • a "voter acknowledgement card" which is a fancy name for the current voter cards mailed to voters whenever they register or make a change; or
  • a "voter verification card" sent by Pate's office to voters who do not appear to have an Iowa license or non-driver ID.
There are options for "attestors" like we have under the current EDR law, but those are limited and take more time - both for you AND the person behind you in line. For 2018 only there's a form to fill out if you don't have ID with you. Full effect would be 1/1/19. Worst case is a provisional ballot, but under federal law anybody can do that. Doesn't mean it counts. All this is before amendments and does not take into account other bills.

Reading further you see some language referencing another code section - that qualifier is very important - that appears to indicate that IDs that would be accepted under Iowa's current election day registration law would also be accepted. These include out-of-state driver's licenses or non-driver IDs, employer IDs, and school IDs - though there's a big catch: these IDs have to include expiration dates, which University of Iowa student IDs do NOT include. (Under current law, EDR voters also have to provide proof of address, usually with a lease or utility bill).

So there's a few more options, as long as the EDR law is in effect.

House File 150, with 10 House GOP sponsors, would repeal the EDR law passed in 2007 and in effect since 2008. From my perspective, this is worse than the ID law itself. In Johnson County in 2016, 5212 voters used this option on election day and in the eight early voting days after the pre-registration deadline.

These are voters who are already showing ID and providing proof of address. It's a popular law that works very well. Of these 5200 new voters, just a few dozen addresses had problems post-election, and those were postal problems, not fraud problems: either people who were right in the middle of a move or who left off their apartment numbers or post offices boxes. (Certain Iowa City mail routes in the densely populated student areas are very picky about apartments, and some of our small towns, especially Tiffin, are equally fussy about PO Boxes.)



We should have sent it Special D.


So there's no real "integrity" justification for repealing the EDR law. It's simply the hardball politics of making it harder to vote for highly mobile (i.e. young) demographics. The support I've heard so far is along the lines of: "well, people can just register on time, then." Trust me. I've worked in elections a LONG time, both before and after EDRs. No matter how much you promote a deadline, someone won't hear about it. And it's just normal for people new to the election process to get interested in it late. Turn away a 19 year old for missing the deadline, and they might not come back till they're 40. Or ever.

HF 150 is just the beginning of how Republicans are going to go at election law: with a Good Cop, Bad Cop strategy. Pate rolls out the "Integrity" bill, says he's not interested in other legislation, and gives himself deniability. Meanwhile the legislators amend it and offer other bills to chip away further at voting access.

For example. Senator Brad Zaun has a competing voter ID bill, Senate File 47, that would limit acceptable IDs to photo IDs only, not allowing the voter "acknowledgement" or "verification" cards under Pate's bill. It's very easy to see Pate's bill getting amended to Zaun's language.

Speaking of Pate's "verification" cards: It appears these would be issued once weekly by comparing the voter file to the driver's license file. (Not in the actual bill: Pate's office says there would be a one-time mailing upon implementation of the law to previously registered voters who don't have a license.) They'd be mailed out of the Secretary of State's office. That introduces some delay in getting them into the hands of voters. The devil here is in the details of how and when these cards would go out.

This provision is the contractual obligation album of the bill. Courts have ruled that if IDs are required there has to be a free ID, so Pate is dotting that t and crossing that i so he can say he did. This bill was no doubt thoroughly ALEC-vetted even before the election. ALEC gets over-used as a liberal boogey man, but this is what they actually do, draft legislation.

Elsewhere in the bill, as anticipated, the vote by mail window shrinks. There's a new first day to request ballots 120 days out (early July) which I have no problem with; virtually no self-starters request that early and I have long thought the coordinated campaigns solicit those requests too early. (Too many people move before Election Day.)

Moire of a problem, the last day to request a ballot moves back from the Friday before an election to the "pre-registration" deadline. (Or, if HF 150 passes, the registration deadline period.) That's 10 days before general elections and 11 days before any other election. (Military and overseas voters would be exempt from this under federal law.)

Last fall Johnson County saw 663 domestic vote by mail requests between Monday, October 31 (eight days out) and Friday, November 4, the current legal deadline. (Until 2004, there was no deadline at all. You could request a mailed ballot the day before the election, and I saw people successfully vote that way.) Of those 663 requests, 484 ballots were successfully returned on time and counted. That's people who at best would have had a lot harder time voting and for many that's people not able to vote at all.

There's other stuff here that is less interesting to me, frankly. A loan (NOT grant) program for the small counties who still don't have electronic pollbooks. There's a random auditing program and some paperwork requirements that look like they just document stuff we do anyway. I'm not AGAINST audits but they will probably not make the black box voting folks happy; I'm convinced their end game agenda is just hand counting all ballots all the time.


Audits will be paid for by charging a quarter to vote.


That might work in the UK if you're just voting on one thing, Member of Parliament, but it doesn't work in an electoral system like ours with dozens of items on the ballot. (Mercifully, the audits restrict themselves to president and governor.)

The two other bills do a couple interesting things. One would allow the use of multi-precinct "vote centers" in primary and general elections; at present this is only available in city and school elections. We use a vote center for North Liberty city elections and people seem to like it. The city sure does when it gets the bill, because it's much cheaper to open one big precinct than six small ones. (Workers are the single biggest cost in elections.)

The other bill clarifies the mess that some counties had last fall with school elections on a general election ballot and specifies that school board vacancies are filled at the next SCHOOL election. (However, there are other bills in both House and Senate, with similar language, that would combine school and city elections. A whole `nother post; that isn't as easy as it sounds.)

It also allows the public to petition for special elections in the event of a school board vacancy, which would be consistent with what is already allowed for city and county offices. We had an issue with this in Iowa City last summer. There was a strong consensus that the public wanted a special election, but the only way to make it happen was for the school board to go through the charade of "failing to appoint."

Another provision of the bill would expand the use of "nursing home teams" that currently visit licensed care facilities into assisted living facilities, specifically those focused on dementia issues. This is the only thing I've seen in any of these bills that would address voter...

Well, I won't call it "fraud." Actually canceling a registration for mental incompetence under court order is so rare that it hasn't happened in my county in at least 40 years. (We got paperwork once, and the person was not registered.)  But I've seen behavior that while legal make me uncomfortable.  When the 60something adult child is "helping" the 90something parent, it's hard to tell where the help ends and the pressure or the taking advantage of the situation begins. I'd rather have a bipartisan team of trained pollworkers dealing with it.



So let's count votes from these bills. Johnson County is down 484 late absentees and 5212 EDR votes so 5696... well more than George W. Bush's margin over John Kerry. And that's not counting people who forgot their wallet or whose roommate threw their card away (again, more likely a young mobile person) or who had to leave because the line was too long.

Which of course is the point.

Voter ID laws and earlier deadlines aren't about absolute prohibitions. They're about the percentages. It's a philosophical difference: is voting a duty or a right? Should it be easy to vote, or hard to vote? Iowa Republicans are coming down hard on one side of that.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Some thoughts on Obama's last night

I'm not going to any events or rallies or marches this weekend. I wish all the best to those who do, and the headlines might be worth the effort unlike some other recent efforts. It may provide a needed catharsis for a lot of people.

I have found myself retreating into a smaller and smaller world since the election. The Democratic infighting which never really stopped after the convention has continued, with a battle to be fought over state chair Saturday. I feel constrained from speaking my mind both because of my better judgement about making it worse - I'm still writing, just not publishing - and because of some of the over-reactions I see.

All I'll say is that yes, there is value in new people and new ways... but there is also value in experience. Experience is what I have to offer, if that's still welcome. With all the "take over" and "throw the Establishment out" talk right now, I don't know if experience IS welcome. (And I'm still dumbfounded at the idea that someone as odd as me is part of any "establishment.")

What and how I do things the next couple of years depends on who emerges from these internal fights and how people get along after those decisions. I don't want to spend a lot of time with people who don't get me or don't like me, and I don't want to sit in long meetings full of tension. I have found over long experience that I work best alone, anyway.

The best use of my energy is to do what I do best, and that's not struggling through interpersonal challenges. I'm much better at digging into numbers and data, and maybe writing about it.

There are so many battles to fight right now, with a new outrage erupting faster than I can catch up my Twitter feed. Every issue is important, but I'm focused on what I know which is the election law that, two weeks after it was announced, we still haven't seen.

So I'll be at home this weekend. I'll hang out with my family and my pets. I'll watch my team win, I hope.

And at some point I'll start working on updating my fundraising lists. For me, that's the best way to fight back right now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How Johnson County Went Democratic For The 14th Time In A Row Since LBJ

(Not Quite The Same Way It Did Last Time)

Donald Trump's Dubuque County win in November leaves Johnson County as the Iowa county with the longest continuous Democratic presidential winning streak, back to LBJ vs. Goldwater in 1964. When I researched that years ago, I wasn't surprised by Ike, but I was surprised that despite a strong Irish Catholic Democrat heritage, Johnson County picked Nixon over JFK in the last GOP win.

I thought people were tired of November election numbers, until Pat Rynard at Iowa Starting Line did an epic, precinct-level post,  "How Dubuque County Went Republican For The 1st Time Since Eisenhower," last week. After that I threatened to do the same for Johnson County, and no one told me not to. So I'm blatantly stealing Pat's idea and format and replacing Dubuque's numbers with Iowa City's.


Dubuque Co. 2016 2016% 2012 2012% Vote Diff % Diff
Trump/Romney 23,460 47.20% 21,280 41.80% 2,180 5.40%
Clinton/Obama 22,850 46.00% 28,768 56.50% -5,918 -10.60%
Stein 379 0.80% 111 0.20% 268 0.50%
Johnson 2,013 4.00% 438 0.90% 1,575 3.20%
Other 1,019 2.00% 297 0.60% 722 1.50%
Total 49,721 50,894 -1,173
Johnson Co. 2016 2016% 2012 2012% Vote Diff % Diff
Trump/Romney 21044 27.35% 23698 31.19% -2,654 -3.84%
Clinton/Obama 50200 65.25% 50666 66.69% -466 -1.44%
Stein 878 1.14% 333 0.44% 545 0.70%
Johnson 2758 3.58% 846 1.11% 1,912 2.47%
Other 2060 2.68% 434 0.57% 1,626 2.11%
Total 77,476 76,199 1,277

At first, I thought this would be a lot of number crunching for not much insight. I had dismissed the local results as Johnson County Normal - a slight drop for Hillary, a bigger drop for Donald, and a slightly larger Democratic margin than Obama won over Romney.

But the closer I looked, the more I saw national and state level patterns mirrored close to home. The results seem to not be so much More Of The Same as they are multiple trends in different directions that came very close to balancing out.

Pat split Dubuque city into four chunks and looked at the rest of the county as a whole. I broke slightly bigger Iowa City into five. I also broke out Coralville, North Liberty, and I split the rural part of the county into two. (Polling places listed may vary as we moved some precincts between 2012 and 2016).

Let's start by looking at the two parts of Iowa City that people think of when they think "Iowa City."

Campus and Downtown

Precincts 3 and 5 are dorm-dominated; 3 also has a chunk of neighborhood and an apartment chunk of mostly med students. 19 is almost entirely student apartments. 11 and 20 are mainly student apartments though 11 has a chunk of working class neighborhood (where I live) and 20 has a couple senior buildings. Those are the five traditional "student" precincts. 13 has trended student since the construction of the Hawks Ridge apartment complex - though in a retrospective edit, I see that I should have grouped it somewhere else.

2016 Trump Clinton Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC03 Petersen 551 33.39% 967 58.61% 19 1.15% 87 5.27% 26 1.58% 1,657
IC05 UI Library 455 24.70% 1,252 67.97% 16 0.87% 86 4.67% 33 1.79% 1,847
IC11 UI Library 409 25.79% 1,041 65.64% 26 1.64% 79 4.98% 31 1.95% 1,588
IC13 Hawks Ridge 238 17.80% 977 73.07% 27 2.02% 52 3.89% 43 3.22% 1,349
IC19 Rec Center 334 23.16% 959 66.50% 26 1.80% 89 6.17% 34 2.36% 1,442
IC20 Senior Center 343 20.64% 1,183 71.18% 29 1.74% 71 4.27% 36 2.17% 1,666
Campus subtotal 2,330 24.40% 6,379 66.80% 143 1.50% 464 4.86% 203 2.13% 9,549
2012 Romney Obama Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC03 Quad 565 35.01% 1,000 61.96% 5 0.31% 29 1.80% 15 0.93% 1,614
IC05 UI Library 539 32.28% 1,075 64.37% 4 0.24% 39 2.34% 13 0.78% 1,672
IC11 Courthouse 591 33.93% 1,090 62.57% 10 0.57% 39 2.24% 12 0.69% 1,747
IC13 City Transit 296 20.86% 1,079 76.04% 8 0.56% 30 2.11% 6 0.42% 1,423
IC19 Rec Center 429 28.81% 994 66.76% 11 0.74% 36 2.42% 19 1.28% 1,490
IC20 Senior Center 504 28.97% 1,179 67.76% 17 0.98% 33 1.90% 7 0.40% 1,741
Campus subtotal 2,924 30.18% 6,417 66.24% 55 0.57% 206 2.13% 72 0.74% 9,687
2016 vs 2012 votes Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Total Votes
IC03 Petersen -14 -33 14 58 11 43
IC05 UI Library -84 177 12 47 20 175
IC11 UI Library -182 -49 16 40 19 -159
IC13 Hawks Ridge -58 -102 19 22 37 -74
IC19 Rec Center -95 -35 15 53 15 -48
IC20 Senior Center -161 4 12 38 29 -75
Campus subtotal -594 -38 88 258 131 -138
2016 vs 2012 % Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Net R Swing
IC03 Petersen -1.61% -3.35% 0.84% 3.48% 0.65% 1.74%
IC05 UI Library -7.57% 3.60% 0.63% 2.33% 1.01% -11.17%
IC11 UI Library -8.14% 3.07% 1.07% 2.74% 1.27% -11.20%
IC13 Hawks Ridge -3.06% -2.97% 1.46% 1.78% 2.79% -0.09%
IC19 Rec Center -5.65% -0.25% 1.06% 3.75% 1.08% -5.40%
IC20 Senior Center -8.33% 3.42% 0.77% 2.38% 1.76% -11.75%
Campus subtotal -5.78% 0.56% 0.93% 2.73% 1.38% -6.34%

These were heavy Bernie precincts at caucus time, and note a slight turnout drop in the off-campus precincts and a more than doubling of the third party vote share. (Over 1 percent of the Johnson County vote, more than 900 people, was on the write-in line, up from just 60 votes as recently as 2004.) But the drop was only slight, and the tend was toward the Democrats - or, more accurately, away from Trump.

Interestingly, precinct 3 had one of the lowest Hillary percentages in the city, and actually trended slightly to Trump, but the very similar precinct 5 performed more like 2012 and shifted 11 points toward the Democrats. I have no explanation as to why the two dorm precincts behaved so differently; perhaps a younger reader who knows more about residence life can help.

Precinct 13 has the highest Democratic score here, and also has the highest non-student percentage. As I so often note, it's not undergrads that make Iowa City, or any other college town, a liberal island of blue. Undergrads still tend to follow parental political cues. No, it's grad students and faculty and staff who make college towns liberal, and they live in...

The People's Republic

These three precincts are historically the most Democratic in the county. It barely even makes sense to make a walking list, because you'll get a Democrat at every door.

In 2000, Ralph Nader edged George W. Bush for second place in north side precinct 21, and 21 usually fights with Longfellow neighborhood 18 for bragging rights. Precinct 17, which voted at City High till this year (handicapped accessibility requirements made it impossible to stay) usually has a slightly lower percentage but has the biggest Democratic vote totals.

These areas were also strong for Sanders at caucus time, but not as overwhelmingly as the youth-dominated student precincts. The fundamental divide between Sanders and Clinton was pragmatism vs. realism...


2016 Trump Clinton Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC17 Our Redeemer 260 13.32% 1,568 80.33% 40 2.05% 36 1.84% 48 2.46% 1,963
IC18 Longfellow 191 10.71% 1,471 82.46% 36 2.02% 42 2.35% 44 2.47% 1,791
IC21 Horace Mann 226 13.78% 1,286 78.41% 40 2.44% 52 3.17% 36 2.20% 1,646
Lefty subtotal 677 12.54% 4,325 80.09% 116 2.15% 130 2.41% 128 2.37% 5,400
2012 Romney Obama Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC17 City High 363 18.34% 1,541 77.87% 30 1.52% 34 1.72% 11 0.56% 1,983
IC18 Longfellow 260 13.54% 1,595 83.07% 17 0.89% 35 1.82% 13 0.68% 1,922
IC21 Horace Mann 335 19.15% 1,340 76.62% 21 1.20% 38 2.17% 15 0.86% 1,752
Lefty subtotal 958 16.93% 4,476 79.12% 68 1.20% 107 1.89% 39 0.69% 5,657
2016 vs 2012 votes Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Total Votes
IC17 Our Redeemer -103 27 10 2 37 -20
IC18 Longfellow -69 -124 19 7 31 -131
IC21 Horace Mann -109 -54 19 14 21 -106
Lefty subtotal -281 -151 48 23 89 -257
2016 vs 2012 % Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Net R Swing
IC17 Our Redeemer -5.02% 2.46% 0.53% 0.13% 1.90% -7.48%
IC18 Longfellow -2.84% -0.62% 1.13% 0.53% 1.79% -2.22%
IC21 Horace Mann -5.37% 1.80% 1.24% 1.00% 1.34% -7.17%
Lefty subtotal -4.40% 0.97% 0.95% 0.52% 1.68% -5.37%

...and we see that gain in the general where the trend to Johnson and Stein was lower than in the student neighborhoods. However, the trend to Other was just as strong as with the students, and turnout was also down a little more here.

In precincts 17 and 21, we see both trends away from Trump and toward Hillary. Precinct 18 didn't trend away from Trump as much, but that may be because they were already close to rock bottom for Romney. Despite a slight drop, 18 had the highest Hillary percentage in the county. These are about the biggest Democratic percentages you'll see anywhere in America outside of majority-minority parts of big cities.

The South/Southeast side

Iowa City's southeast side is an odd mix: trailer courts and big non-student working class apartments, interlaced with empty nesters who are not happy about Those People From Chicago. Iowa City, especially this area, has seen a noticeable black in-migration in the past 15 to 20 years, and also has a growing Hispanic population centered in these precincts. Included for demographic sake are two trailer-dominated "rural" precincts, Scott and West Lucas townships.


2016 Trump Clinton Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC10 Trueblood 322 24.30% 918 69.28% 14 1.06% 34 2.57% 37 2.79% 1,338
IC12 Grant Wood 281 18.34% 1,131 73.83% 21 1.37% 56 3.66% 43 2.81% 1,542
IC14 Mark Twain 204 14.32% 1,108 77.75% 27 1.89% 43 3.02% 43 3.02% 1,431
IC15 Tate 174 18.26% 685 71.88% 29 3.04% 38 3.99% 27 2.83% 963
SC Scott 306 32.90% 569 61.18% 11 1.18% 28 3.01% 16 1.72% 937
WL West Lucas 194 30.22% 405 63.08% 15 2.34% 11 1.71% 17 2.65% 646
south subtotal 1,481 21.60% 4,816 70.23% 117 1.71% 210 3.06% 183 2.67% 6,857
2012 Romney Obama Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC10 City Parks 312 24.66% 927 73.28% 5 0.40% 16 1.26% 5 0.40% 1,273
IC12 Grant Wood 314 20.52% 1,184 77.39% 6 0.39% 12 0.78% 14 0.92% 1,538
IC14 Mark Twain 259 17.13% 1,219 80.62% 13 0.86% 9 0.60% 12 0.79% 1,523
IC15 Tate 247 20.36% 943 77.74% 8 0.66% 10 0.82% 5 0.41% 1,219
SC Scott 352 35.20% 630 63.00% 6 0.60% 7 0.70% 5 0.50% 1,007
WL West Lucas 203 28.12% 511 70.78% 3 0.42% 2 0.28% 3 0.42% 730
south subtotal 1,687 23.14% 5,414 74.27% 41 0.56% 56 0.77% 44 0.60% 7,290
2016 vs 2012 votes Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Total Votes
IC10 Trueblood 10 -9 9 18 32 65
IC12 Grant Wood -33 -53 15 44 29 4
IC14 Mark Twain -55 -111 14 34 31 -92
IC15 Tate -73 -258 21 28 22 -256
SC Scott -46 -61 5 21 11 -70
WL West Lucas -9 -106 12 9 14 -84
south subtotal -206 -598 76 154 139 -433
2016 vs 2012 % Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Net R Swing
IC10 Trueblood -0.36% -4.00% 0.66% 1.30% 2.40% 3.64%
IC12 Grant Wood -2.18% -3.56% 0.98% 2.87% 1.89% 1.38%
IC14 Mark Twain -2.81% -2.87% 1.03% 2.42% 2.22% 0.05%
IC15 Tate -2.10% -5.86% 2.38% 3.16% 2.42% 3.76%
SC Scott -2.30% -1.82% 0.58% 2.31% 1.22% -0.48%
WL West Lucas 2.10% -7.69% 1.92% 1.44% 2.23% 9.79%
south subtotal -1.54% -4.03% 1.14% 2.29% 2.07% 2.49%


Precinct 10 doesn't quite fit here; new owner-occupied homes make this the one precinct in the area with a turnout increase. And you can see that Scott and West Lucas still have some rural voters. But 14 and to a lesser extent precinct 12 and (because of high third party totals including Stein's top score at 3% ) precinct 15 rival even the lefty heartland with their percentages;  would have been nice to have gotten more voters out of here.

Most of the turnout drop here is in one precinct, 15. The "redevelopment" of the Rose Oaks apartments (formerly and locally known as Lakeside) uprooted a lot of people. There may also have been a dip in black turnout without Barack Obama on the ballot, but racial voting data isn't available in Iowa.

East Side

Now we're starting to get into "townie" Iowa City. There are apartments here and there but most of these voters are homeowners in long-established neighborhoods. Precinct 6 has large senior complexes. Precinct 22 has some new homes in the Peninsula neighborhood and the only population of students here, at the Mayflower dorm. (I tried really hard to fix that in reprecincting and couldn't.) Precinct 24 is dominated by the relatively new and high income Windsor Ridge development.

These voters are not usually left wing in local elections, but are solidly Democratic at the top of the ticket.


2016 Trump Clinton Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC01 Lemme 439 22.15% 1,442 72.75% 10 0.50% 34 1.72% 57 2.88% 1,997
IC06 Mercer 364 19.65% 1,358 73.33% 23 1.24% 52 2.81% 55 2.97% 1,869
IC16 Mercer 247 14.71% 1,321 78.68% 27 1.61% 39 2.32% 45 2.68% 1,695
IC22 Shimek 319 21.92% 1,042 71.62% 15 1.03% 42 2.89% 37 2.54% 1,466
IC23 ICCSD 372 18.60% 1,488 74.40% 27 1.35% 53 2.65% 60 3.00% 2,015
IC24 St. Patrick 547 26.26% 1,388 66.63% 18 0.86% 68 3.26% 62 2.98% 2,113
east subtotal 2,288 20.51% 8,039 72.07% 120 1.08% 288 2.58% 316 2.83% 11,155
2012 Romney Obama Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC01 Lemme 535 27.88% 1,361 70.92% 2 0.10% 15 0.78% 6 0.31% 1,924
IC06 Mercer 513 26.76% 1,367 71.31% 12 0.63% 15 0.78% 10 0.52% 1,924
IC16 Lucas 336 19.48% 1,353 78.43% 9 0.52% 18 1.04% 9 0.52% 1,731
IC22 Shimek 349 23.97% 1,079 74.11% 6 0.41% 15 1.03% 7 0.48% 1,458
IC23 Regina 525 25.61% 1,486 72.49% 14 0.68% 12 0.59% 13 0.63% 2,054
IC24 St. Patrick 696 38.16% 1,111 60.91% 3 0.16% 10 0.55% 4 0.22% 1,828
east subtotal 2,954 27.05% 7,757 71.04% 46 0.42% 85 0.78% 49 0.45% 10,919
2016 vs 2012 votes Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Total Votes
IC01 Lemme -96 81 8 19 51 73
IC06 Mercer -149 -9 11 37 45 -55
IC16 Mercer -89 -32 18 21 36 -36
IC22 Shimek -30 -37 9 27 30 8
IC23 ICCSD -153 2 13 41 47 -39
IC24 St. Patrick -149 277 15 58 58 285
east subtotal -666 282 74 203 267 236
2016 vs 2012 % Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Net R Swing
IC01 Lemme -5.73% 1.83% 0.40% 0.93% 2.56% -7.56%
IC06 Mercer -7.11% 2.02% 0.62% 2.03% 2.45% -9.12%
IC16 Mercer -4.77% 0.24% 1.09% 1.28% 2.16% -5.01%
IC22 Shimek -2.05% -2.49% 0.62% 1.86% 2.06% 0.45%
IC23 ICCSD -7.01% 1.91% 0.67% 2.06% 2.37% -8.92%
IC24 St. Patrick -11.90% 5.72% 0.70% 2.72% 2.76% -17.62%
east subtotal -6.54% 1.03% 0.65% 1.80% 2.38% -7.57%

And here we see outright revulsion at Trump, with a 17 point Democratic swing in precinct 24 and 9 point swings in 6 and 23. Most of this seems to be against Trump - note the giant spikes in the Johnson and Other vote, and I'm thinking that's McMullin or that's non-Trump GOP write-ins. Except in precinct 24, where Hillary ran almost 6 points ahead of Obama. The growth also means 24 accounted for most of the east side's turnout increase. (There's also one new subdivision in precinct 1.)

Granted, the "suburban" parts of Iowa City are a lot more Democratic that, say, Dallas County. But this is a Never Trump trend we saw nationally in similar places and which I expected, before Election Night, would be the big story of 2016.

West Side

There's a lot of similarity to the east side here, with Kennedy Parkway in precinct 7 taking the place of Windsor Ridge and Oaknoll in precinct 2 more than taking the place of the senior complexes in precinct 6. Precinct 4 is mostly the doctor/professor dominated very old neighborhood, Manville Heights; the enclaved speed trap University Heights has a similar feel.

But there's a few wild cards here. Precinct 4 also has a chunk of Frat Row, and there's a low income area split between 7 and 9 that includes a large and politically active Sudanese community. These are the voters I saw bringing their passports with them to vote as if to assert "I AM an American."

2016 Trump Clinton Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC02 Horn 349 20.70% 1,208 71.65% 23 1.36% 55 3.26% 51 3.02% 1,707
IC04 Art 273 16.28% 1,309 78.06% 15 0.89% 59 3.52% 21 1.25% 1,688
IC07 West High 294 20.99% 1,016 72.52% 9 0.64% 48 3.43% 34 2.43% 1,413
IC08 Weber  437 24.69% 1,219 68.87% 11 0.62% 49 2.77% 54 3.05% 1,782
IC09 Hall of Fame 306 18.75% 1,188 72.79% 25 1.53% 52 3.19% 61 3.74% 1,642
UH University Heights 142 19.86% 527 73.71% 4 0.56% 23 3.22% 19 2.66% 720
West Subtotal 1,801 20.12% 6,467 72.24% 87 0.97% 286 3.19% 240 2.68% 8,952
2012 Romney Obama Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
IC02 Horn 531 29.57% 1,228 68.37% 6 0.33% 18 1.00% 13 0.72% 1,800
IC04 Lincoln 345 23.03% 1,130 75.43% 7 0.47% 9 0.60% 7 0.47% 1,499
IC07 West High 347 27.92% 872 70.15% 6 0.48% 10 0.80% 8 0.64% 1,248
IC08 Weber School 612 35.79% 1,085 63.45% 2 0.12% 7 0.41% 4 0.23% 1,715
IC09 Hall of Fame 430 25.10% 1,246 72.74% 7 0.41% 21 1.23% 9 0.53% 1,720
UH University Heights 233 30.14% 531 68.69% 2 0.26% 4 0.52% 3 0.39% 774
West Subtotal 2,498 28.53% 6,092 69.58% 30 0.34% 69 0.79% 44 0.50% 8,756
2016 vs 2012 votes Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Total Votes
IC02 Horn -182 -20 17 37 38 -93
IC04 Art -72 179 8 50 14 189
IC07 West High -53 144 3 38 26 165
IC08 Weber  -175 134 9 42 50 67
IC09 Hall of Fame -124 -58 18 31 52 -78
UH University Heights -91 -4 2 19 16 -54
West Subtotal -697 375 57 217 196 196
2016 vs 2012 % Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Net R Swing
IC02 Horn -8.87% 3.27% 1.03% 2.26% 2.30% -12.14%
IC04 Art -6.75% 2.62% 0.43% 2.92% 0.78% -9.37%
IC07 West High -6.93% 2.37% 0.16% 2.62% 1.78% -9.30%
IC08 Weber  -11.10% 5.42% 0.50% 2.36% 2.82% -16.52%
IC09 Hall of Fame -6.35% 0.06% 1.12% 1.96% 3.21% -6.41%
UH University Heights -10.28% 5.01% 0.30% 2.70% 2.27% -15.30%
West Subtotal -8.41% 2.67% 0.63% 2.41% 2.18% -11.08%

The west side shifted even more Democratic than the east - 11 points overall including a whopping 16.5% in precinct 8. The difference seems to be more of a trend toward Hillary, on top of the anti-Trump shift. But again, big spikes for Johnson, Other, and also Stein here.

Big surprise here: the turnout drop in precinct 2, despite heavy turnout civically engaged Oaknoll (site of the one successful satellite caucus in the state) opening a large new wing since 2012. I can't account for that; most of the student apartments on West Benton are in precinct 13, not 2. (Having already cut the turf, I see now that precinct 13 fits better here than it did in the student precincts.)

Coralville

Demographically there's really two Coralvilles. South Coralville (precinct 1, 4, and 5) is mostly older homes and apartments. North Coralville (precincts 2, 6, 7 and the demographically similar Penn Township) has bigger and newer homes and more money. Precinct 3 doesn't quite fit either; it's dominated by the Coral Court apartment complex and the Western Hills trailer court (where registration has been in decline).

2016 Trump Clinton Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
CV01 Library 304 19.86% 1,095 71.52% 22 1.44% 65 4.25% 45 2.92% 1,541
CV02 Brown Deer 459 29.18% 990 62.94% 13 0.83% 53 3.37% 58 3.66% 1,586
CV03 Hygienic Lab 272 28.39% 615 64.20% 8 0.84% 33 3.44% 30 3.11% 966
CV04 City Hall 208 18.31% 838 73.77% 14 1.23% 39 3.43% 37 3.23% 1,145
CV05 NW Jr High 262 20.58% 926 72.74% 9 0.71% 41 3.22% 35 2.73% 1,280
CV06 Wickham 576 30.72% 1,181 62.99% 9 0.48% 66 3.52% 43 2.28% 1,887
CV07 North Ridge 371 23.74% 1,072 68.59% 18 1.15% 45 2.88% 57 3.65% 1,582
PN Penn Twp 596 30.94% 1,210 62.82% 12 0.62% 67 3.48% 41 2.13% 1,948
Coralville subtotal 3,048 25.54% 7,927 66.42% 105 0.88% 409 3.43% 346 2.90% 11,935
2012 Romney Obama Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
CV01 Central 344 24.01% 1,031 71.95% 10 0.70% 36 2.51% 12 0.84% 1,442
CV02 Grant Wood AEA 587 36.69% 972 60.75% 8 0.50% 21 1.31% 12 0.75% 1,602
CV03 Hygienic Lab 287 31.82% 604 66.96% 0 0.00% 6 0.67% 5 0.55% 902
CV04 Rec Center 265 20.35% 996 76.50% 8 0.61% 16 1.23% 17 1.31% 1,309
CV05 NW Jr High 344 25.29% 977 71.84% 10 0.74% 21 1.54% 8 0.59% 1,363
CV06 Wickham 752 43.62% 957 55.51% 4 0.23% 7 0.41% 4 0.23% 1,724
CV07 Northridge 459 28.72% 1,102 68.96% 7 0.44% 21 1.31% 9 0.56% 1,600
PN Penn Twp 715 36.46% 1,223 62.37% 5 0.25% 13 0.66% 5 0.25% 1,965
Coralville subtotal 3,753 31.52% 7,862 66.03% 52 0.44% 141 1.18% 72 0.60% 11,907
2016 vs 2012 votes Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Total Votes
CV01 Library -40 64 12 29 33 99
CV02 Brown Deer -128 18 5 32 46 -16
CV03 Hygienic Lab -15 11 8 27 25 64
CV04 City Hall -57 -158 6 23 20 -164
CV05 NW Jr High -82 -51 -1 20 27 -83
CV06 Wickham -176 224 5 59 39 163
CV07 North Ridge -88 -30 11 24 48 -18
PN Penn Twp -119 -13 7 54 36 -17
Coralville subtotal -705 65 53 268 274 28
2016 vs 2012 % Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Net R Swing
CV01 Library -4.15% -0.43% 0.74% 1.73% 2.10% -3.72%
CV02 Brown Deer -7.51% 2.19% 0.33% 2.06% 2.94% -9.69%
CV03 Hygienic Lab -3.43% -2.77% 0.84% 2.78% 2.58% -0.66%
CV04 City Hall -2.04% -2.73% 0.62% 2.20% 1.95% 0.69%
CV05 NW Jr High -4.71% 0.90% -0.03% 1.68% 2.16% -5.62%
CV06 Wickham -12.90% 7.48% 0.25% 3.11% 2.06% -20.38%
CV07 North Ridge -4.99% -0.38% 0.71% 1.56% 3.08% -4.61%
PN Penn Twp -5.52% 0.46% 0.37% 2.82% 1.87% -5.97%
Coralville subtotal -5.98% 0.39% 0.44% 2.24% 2.29% -6.37%

We get a very mixed set of data from Coralville. Turnout was almost identical but it was a matter of counter-trends. Overall Hillary's percentage narrowly tops Obama's while Trump drops six points.

I'd say that shift was toward the third parties... but it isn't, because it isn't consistent across precincts. The big story here is precinct 6 with a 7.5% Hillary gain that more than accounts for her area-wide gain, and a massive 20 point shift to the Democrats.

North Liberty and Tiffin

This is some of the fastest growing turf in the state and it was the scene of the one significantly contested local race, in open House District 77 where North Liberty mayor Amy Nielsen beat a strong for Johnson County GOP candidate, former Tiffin mayor Royce Phillips.

North Liberty isn't any more of a monolith than Coralville is, yet we get an even more precise example of trends counter-balancing.

2016 Trump Clinton Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
CC Tiffin 617 37.51% 898 54.59% 20 1.22% 76 4.62% 34 2.07% 1,654
NL01 Rec Center 447 30.79% 873 60.12% 11 0.76% 62 4.27% 59 4.06% 1,458
NL02 Garner 446 31.45% 847 59.73% 7 0.49% 72 5.08% 46 3.24% 1,430
NL03 South Slope 618 32.79% 1,056 56.02% 17 0.90% 122 6.47% 72 3.82% 1,896
NL04 North Central 352 27.80% 812 64.14% 14 1.11% 50 3.95% 38 3.00% 1,279
NL05 Rec Center 337 27.85% 762 62.98% 13 1.07% 59 4.88% 39 3.22% 1,216
NL06-MD UICCU 867 37.00% 1,258 53.69% 22 0.94% 128 5.46% 68 2.90% 2,351
NL/Tiffin subtotal 3,684 32.65% 6,506 57.66% 104 0.92% 569 5.04% 356 3.15% 11,284
2012 Romney Obama Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
CC Tiffin 477 36.47% 804 61.47% 3 0.23% 17 1.30% 7 0.54% 1,313
NL01 NL Comm Center 502 37.46% 821 61.27% 0 0.00% 11 0.82% 6 0.45% 1,341
NL02 Garner 497 36.54% 849 62.43% 2 0.15% 7 0.51% 5 0.37% 1,366
NL03 South Slope 603 39.62% 890 58.48% 5 0.33% 20 1.31% 4 0.26% 1,524
NL04 North Central 359 27.94% 904 70.35% 1 0.08% 8 0.62% 13 1.01% 1,292
NL05 NL Comm Center 459 34.85% 837 63.55% 1 0.08% 12 0.91% 8 0.61% 1,320
NL06-MD North Bend 787 40.73% 1,102 57.04% 5 0.26% 28 1.45% 10 0.52% 1,934
NL/Tiffin subtotal 3,684 36.51% 6,207 61.52% 17 0.17% 103 1.02% 53 0.53% 10,090
2016 vs 2012 votes Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Total Votes
CC Tiffin 140 94 17 59 27 341
NL01 Rec Center -55 52 11 51 53 117
NL02 Garner -51 -2 5 65 41 64
NL03 South Slope 15 166 12 102 68 372
NL04 North Central -7 -92 13 42 25 -13
NL05 Rec Center -122 -75 12 47 31 -104
NL06-MD UICCU 80 156 17 100 58 417
NL/Tiffin subtotal 0 299 87 466 303 1,194
2016 vs 2012 % Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Net R Swing
CC Tiffin 1.04% -6.88% 0.99% 3.32% 1.53% 7.92%
NL01 Rec Center -6.68% -1.14% 0.76% 3.45% 3.62% -5.53%
NL02 Garner -5.09% -2.69% 0.35% 4.56% 2.88% -2.40%
NL03 South Slope -6.83% -2.45% 0.57% 5.16% 3.56% -4.38%
NL04 North Central -0.13% -6.21% 1.03% 3.33% 1.99% 6.08%
NL05 Rec Center -7.00% -0.58% 1.00% 3.96% 2.62% -6.42%
NL06-MD UICCU -3.73% -3.35% 0.68% 4.01% 2.38% -0.38%
NL/Tiffin subtotal -3.86% -3.86% 0.75% 4.02% 2.63% 0.00%

I thought I made a spreadsheet error so I checked again and yes, Trump and Clinton's losses compared to Romney and Obama exactly balanced out in North Liberty and Tiffin for zero net percentage change. With both major party candidates losing nearly four points, that of course means a massive jump in third party votes. That's not entirely a shock; high growth areas tend to be less politically established and less rooted to tradition. North Liberty 3 topped 11 percent 3rd party. (Tangent: the four precincts with the highest non-two party vote were all demographically different: high income high growth North Liberty 3, student precinct Iowa City 19, southeast side Iowa City 15, and small town Hills.)

Tiffin, which is a couple decades closer to its rural roots than North Liberty, trended away from Clinton. So did trailer court dominated North Liberty 4.  That was counter-balanced by anti-Trump trends in precincts 1 and 5 which are slightly older development, though nothing's very old out here. Precinct 5 actually saw a drop in total voters. That area is built out, perhaps indicating that the overall North Liberty turnout increase was caused more by growth than by increased interest.

The Greater Solon Metropolitan Area

Rural Johnson County doesn't divide neatly so I split it into two. 

Even the most casual local observers have seen a GOP trend in northeast Johnson County, and the sage of Solon Paul Deaton has written about it extensively. Most of this turf is in Republican Bobby Kaufmann's legislative district; he's worked this area hard and went without opposition this cycle.

Demographically most of this is high growth turf including Swisher and Shueyville (in Nielsen's district, not Kaufmann's) which are oriented as much toward Cedar Rapids as Iowa City. Outside the town there are a lot of big houses with couples commuting in opposite directions.

2016 Trump Clinton Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
BG Big Grove 575 48.94% 529 45.02% 3 0.26% 42 3.57% 26 2.21% 1,187
CE Cedar 191 53.35% 144 40.22% 1 0.28% 10 2.79% 12 3.35% 358
GR Graham 122 37.65% 185 57.10% 3 0.93% 8 2.47% 6 1.85% 325
JE Jefferson E.-Shueyville 813 51.10% 676 42.49% 10 0.63% 59 3.71% 33 2.07% 1,594
JW Jefferson W.-Swisher 745 51.13% 639 43.86% 6 0.41% 31 2.13% 36 2.47% 1,464
NP Newport 580 36.64% 898 56.73% 14 0.88% 41 2.59% 50 3.16% 1,595
SO Solon city 612 43.87% 688 49.32% 11 0.79% 51 3.66% 33 2.37% 1,410
Metro Solon subtotal 3,638 45.86% 3,759 47.38% 48 0.61% 242 3.05% 196 2.47% 7,933
2012 Romney Obama Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
BG Big Grove 551 49.33% 555 49.69% 1 0.09% 7 0.63% 3 0.27% 1,123
CE Cedar 151 42.78% 198 56.09% 0 0.00% 2 0.57% 2 0.57% 353
GR Graham 107 35.43% 187 61.92% 2 0.66% 2 0.66% 4 1.32% 302
JE Jefferson E.-Shueyville 841 53.81% 699 44.72% 4 0.26% 10 0.64% 9 0.58% 1,568
JW Jefferson W.-Swisher 702 48.58% 735 50.87% 0 0.00% 6 0.42% 2 0.14% 1,451
NP Newport 646 40.38% 936 58.50% 1 0.06% 10 0.63% 7 0.44% 1,603
SO Solon city 447 37.91% 715 60.64% 4 0.34% 7 0.59% 6 0.51% 1,184
Metro Solon subtotal 3,445 45.42% 4,025 53.07% 12 0.16% 44 0.58% 33 0.44% 7,584
2016 vs 2012 votes Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Total Votes
BG Big Grove 24 -26 2 35 23 64
CE Cedar 40 -54 1 8 10 5
GR Graham 15 -2 1 6 2 23
JE Jefferson E.-Shueyville -28 -23 6 49 24 26
JW Jefferson W.-Swisher 43 -96 6 25 34 13
NP Newport -66 -38 13 31 43 -8
SO Solon city 165 -27 7 44 27 226
Metro Solon subtotal 193 -266 36 198 163 349
2016 vs 2012 % Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Net R Swing
BG Big Grove -0.39% -4.67% 0.17% 2.95% 1.94% 4.27%
CE Cedar 10.58% -15.87% 0.28% 2.23% 2.79% 26.44%
GR Graham 2.22% -4.82% 0.26% 1.81% 0.53% 7.05%
JE Jefferson E.-Shueyville -2.71% -2.23% 0.37% 3.07% 1.50% -0.47%
JW Jefferson W.-Swisher 2.55% -7.01% 0.41% 1.71% 2.33% 9.56%
NP Newport -3.74% -1.77% 0.82% 1.97% 2.72% -1.96%
SO Solon city 5.96% -11.33% 0.45% 3.06% 1.86% 17.28%
Metro Solon subtotal 0.43% -5.69% 0.45% 2.47% 2.04% 6.12%

Here for the first time we see actual Trump wins. Romney carried only Shueyville; Trump adds Swisher, Big Grove (the rural area immediately surrounding Solon city) and rural Cedar Township (the greater metropolitan Sutliff area), and holds Hillary under 50% in Solon.

Demographic question I can't figure out: Cedar used to vote as Democratic as the very similar Graham Township (greater metropolitan Morse). Graham has stayed blue while Cedar has turned red in a big way with a 26 point shift to Trump.

And Graham seems to be a major anomaly here. These areas seem to be far enough out that the suburban Never Trump trend is overwhelmed by the exurban and rural Never Hillary tend. 

Turnout is up, more due to growth than interest. The exception is Newport which may actually be a rare case where a hot legislative race in 2012 got people out more than president did. Newport is also closer to Iowa City and sees a small gain in Democratic margin

Rural Rural Johnson County

The North Corridor precincts we just looked at are mostly suburban, but the final chunk of the county is where the farms and true small towns are. And as elsewhere in Iowa and the  nation, the Democrats got our asses handed to us here.

2016 Trump Clinton Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
FR Lone Tree area 519 49.10% 465 43.99% 10 0.95% 46 4.35% 17 1.61% 1,063
HD Hardin (Cosgrove) 171 49.57% 153 44.35% 0 0.00% 13 3.77% 8 2.32% 348
HS Hills city 165 35.48% 256 55.05% 5 1.08% 27 5.81% 12 2.58% 469
LB rural Hills 175 45.10% 197 50.77% 3 0.77% 10 2.58% 3 0.77% 393
OX Oxford 396 47.65% 373 44.89% 11 1.32% 33 3.97% 18 2.17% 839
SN Sharon 201 55.83% 139 38.61% 1 0.28% 5 1.39% 14 3.89% 364
UN Union 189 44.47% 226 53.18% 3 0.71% 6 1.41% 1 0.24% 430
WS Washington 281 56.43% 173 34.74% 5 1.00% 20 4.02% 19 3.82% 505
Rural Rural subtotal 2,097 47.54% 1,982 44.93% 38 0.86% 160 3.63% 92 2.09% 4,411
2012 Romney Obama Stein Johnson Other Total Votes
FR Lone Tree area 399 40.02% 582 58.38% 4 0.40% 9 0.90% 3 0.30% 1,001
HD Hardin (Cosgrove) 145 44.75% 173 53.40% 2 0.62% 2 0.62% 2 0.62% 329
HS Hills city 140 31.11% 294 65.33% 2 0.44% 11 2.44% 3 0.67% 452
LB rural Hills 157 40.89% 223 58.07% 0 0.00% 2 0.52% 2 0.52% 387
OX Oxford 304 35.56% 539 63.04% 1 0.12% 5 0.58% 6 0.70% 857
SN Sharon 208 57.14% 150 41.21% 2 0.55% 2 0.55% 2 0.55% 367
UN Union 180 41.57% 248 57.27% 1 0.23% 2 0.46% 2 0.46% 436
WS Washington 262 54.70% 207 43.22% 0 0.00% 2 0.42% 8 1.67% 480
Rural Rural subtotal 1,795 41.66% 2,416 56.07% 12 0.28% 35 0.81% 28 0.65% 4,309
2016 vs 2012 votes Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Total Votes
FR Lone Tree area 120 -117 6 37 14 62
HD Hardin (Cosgrove) 26 -20 -2 11 6 19
HS Hills city 25 -38 3 16 9 17
LB rural Hills 18 -26 3 8 1 6
OX Oxford 92 -166 10 28 12 -18
SN Sharon -7 -11 -1 3 12 -3
UN Union 9 -22 2 4 -1 -6
WS Washington 19 -34 5 18 11 25
Rural Rural subtotal 302 -434 26 125 64 102
2016 vs 2012 % Trump vs Romney Clinton vs Obama Stein 16 vs 12 Johnson 16 vs 12 Other 16 Vs 12 Net R Swing
FR Lone Tree area 9.08% -14.38% 0.54% 3.45% 1.31% 23.46%
HD Hardin (Cosgrove) 4.81% -9.05% -0.62% 3.15% 1.70% 13.86%
HS Hills city 4.37% -10.28% 0.63% 3.36% 1.91% 14.65%
LB rural Hills 4.22% -7.30% 0.77% 2.06% 0.25% 11.52%
OX Oxford 12.10% -18.16% 1.21% 3.39% 1.46% 30.25%
SN Sharon -1.31% -2.60% -0.27% 0.84% 3.34% 1.29%
UN Union 2.90% -4.10% 0.47% 0.95% -0.23% 7.00%
WS Washington 1.73% -8.48% 1.00% 3.60% 2.15% 10.20%
Rural Rural subtotal 5.88% -11.14% 0.58% 2.82% 1.44% 17.02%

Sharon and Washington townships have always voted like pieces of GOP leaning Washington County that were accidentally surveyed into the wrong county. Sharon stays almost the same but Washington sees a 8.5 point shift sway from the Democrats to third parties.  Most of this massive 17 point shift across rural rural Johnson County was anti-Clinton. Amy Nielsen didn't see similar drops in her open legislative race. The third parties jumped from very low levels to numbers approaching the rest of the county.

Trump adds Cosgrove and, with shifts of Howard County proportions, Oxford and Lone Tree to the red column. The Hills area, so ancestrally Democratic that even I won it in my Some Dude legislative race 20 years ago, stays Democratic but sees a red shift that would have seemed big back when we were looking at cities. Overall, this adds up to a Trump win in this part of the county. Turnout was up in this low-growth area, with most of the increase coming from Lone Tree.

Democrats in every part of Iowa and every part of the nation have questions about how to proceed into the Trump Era. For Johnson County, the rural question is less pressing simply because of the nature of the county. The numbers in those places are relatively small. The real issue for local Democrats is how to gain back those third party votes - both on the Never Hillary Left and the Never Trump center right - while holding on to the upper income suburban voters who defected from Trump to Clinton.