The Register noted Tuesday that nine Iowa counties will have mandatory gambling issues on the 2010 general election ballot.
Gambling votes nearly always increase turnout; it's an issue both emotional and economic. So how does that ripple through the other races on the ballot?
Let's start by looking at the nine counties and seeing how they voted for governor in 2006.
|Total of 9 counties||54,588||55.8%||41,953||42.9%||1,289||97,830|
The nine counties that will have gambling issues on the 2010 ballot voted 55.8 percent for Culver, a little better than his 54.1 statewide percentage. Lyon County breaks the curve, but Black Hawk is by far the largest. The nine counties account for 9.3 percent of the 2006 state turnout, which is about what you'd expect on average in a 99 county state.
We can expect higher than average gubernatorial year turnout in these nine counties, which will marginally help the governor. If we assume 2008 presidential level turnout in the gambling counties (that level of increase has been seen in gambling elections) and 2006 level turnout in the rest of the state, that increases statewide turnout by 42,891 votes.
And if the "extra" votes break the same way they did in 2006, Culver nets 5,444 "extra" votes, or a 0.5 percent, advantage. Maybe more, since low turnout demographics trend Democratic.
But it's hard to predict how it really shakes out in the governor's race. Gambling opponents come in the religious conservative type and the progressive type that considers gambling a regressive tax, and supporters range from economic developers to lefty libertarians.
Where gambling might make a big difference is in a pair of sure to be hot legislative races in eastern Iowa. House District 89 freshman Democrat Larry Marek of Riverside, who was very active in the original Riverside casino campaign and in founding the casino's charitable foundation, will share the ballot with the Washington County gambling issue. Senator Becky Schmitz of District 45, which includes Marek's turf, will also see gambling on the ballot in her chunk of Wapello County.