The 2012 general election in Johnson County is, with this afternoon's canvass, Officially done *. The * is for the likelihood of a very unnecessary recount in Tiffin. More on that later. First, a look at the Big numbers.
Bigger than ever, in fact. For the fourth consecutive presidential election, Johnson County set a turnout record, with 76,199 voters. That's 83.38% of the registration the night before the election - but that percentage is artificially high since thousands registered on Election Day.
We also set a new early voting peak with 44,143 absentees, 57.93% of the total vote. The absentees were, through self-selection, Democrat-dominated. President Obama scored 75% of the early vote but just 56% on Election Day, on the way to an overall 66.69%.
That's down a notch from Obama's 69.91% in 2008, and his raw vote count is down, too: 51,026 in 2008, 50,666 (!) in 2012. Those last three digits fueling the Obama=Antichrist tin foil hatters. Romney improved on McCain's score, but some of the shift was to third parties and write ins. The alternatives were up from 1.67% to 2.12%, with Libertarian Gary Johnson the main beneficiary. Johnson scored the LP's first third-place finish here since 1988, when their nominee was some guy named Ron Paul.
Down the ballot, Dave Loebsack improved from 62% in difficult 2010 to 68% this year. But the bragging rights go to Lonny Pulkrabek: he can console himself from the justice center loss with the fact that he won more votes than anyone or anything in Johnson County history, beating previous champs Tom Harkin and the 2008 Idiot Amendment. Travis Weipert was close behind Pulkrabek in total votes, but Weipert also had fewer write-ins against him than Pulkrabek.
As for the justice center, it scored much better early than on Election Day. I have yet to determine whether that was the late start of the No campaign or the more Republican skew of the Election Day voters. Look for a long number heavy post soon; I will note that the most pro-Yes voters were early voters in Iowa City Precinct 2 (near west side including Oaknoll). The highest No percentage was on Election Day in Iowa City 21, the Goosetown part of the north side. That's the precinct (under slightly different lines) where W came in third place, behind Ralph Nader, in 2000. Of course, I'm seeing what I want to see there.
* Now back to that Tiffin recount. To get you up to speed: Tiffin had two city council seats on the ballot for one-year terms, to replace Chris Ball (who left town) and Travis Weipert (who also found a new job). Former mayor Royce Phillips finished second, and new candidate Jenny Carhoff is 16 votes behind.
16 votes is a LOT in a city election. In 2008, the conservation bond recount (also unnecessary) only shifted six votes out of 73,000. I suspect this is less about reversing a result than it is about delaying a result. We saw the same in North Liberty in 2005. Get your popcorn, this should be good to watch.
In other news, there's been another bizarre gardening accident in the Iowa Senate Republican caucus. Leader Jerry Behn, after one session and one election in which he failed to win a majority, is out, and the ambitious Bill Dix is in. We have an exclusive interview:
Dix becomes the sixth Senate GOP leader since 2006. The last three have been replaced after election losses: Ron Weick after losing seats in 2008, Paul McKinley after losing the Liz Mathis special in 2011, and now Behn after failing to regain control. Meanwhile, Mike Gronstal holds on to control with 26 seats...
Maybe 27? Desmund Adams is a solid candidate for that December 11 special, the unofficial "loss" to the late Pat Ward not withstanding. No one runs a better ground game than Iowa Democrats with all their focus on one race; just ask Mathis or Curt Hansen.