A review of public data made available by the Iowa Secretary of State’s website indicates that while now leading Republicans in voter registration, Democrats registered far fewer voters than they did in 2008 over the same period.

The Iowa Secretary of State released updated voter registration totals today. The data show Republicans have 670,917 voters in the State of Iowa. Democrats show 694,412. No party/other totaled 829,179.  These figures include both active and inactive voters.

At first glance, the voter registration data looks promising. However, The numbers look less rosy when compared to previous elections. They show that from January 2, 2020, through March 2, only 31,013 Democrat voters were added.

In the same period in 2008, Democrats added 59,731 new individuals to their total.  2008 was the last time there was an open Democratic field vying for the presidency following a Republican President. That is a 60% drop this year compared to 2008

The Caucuses

While the big news from the Iowa caucuses centered around the Democratic caucus count and recount fiasco — which eventually led to the chairperson’s resignation — less reported was the fact that Donald Trump broke the record for the most votes received by an incumbent in the Iowa caucuses. According to the Iowa GOP Caucus results website, Trump received over 31,000 votes. Barack Obama set that record in 2012.

When asked, party insiders, both Democrat and Republican, were surprised by the difference in voter registration totals between 2008 and 2020. Many Republicans concede that voter registration is not their strong suit and note that Democrats invest substantially more time and resources into the effort.

“Obama was the Gold standard for Democratic campaigns. But those numbers are over a decade old; we should have beat them. Honestly, I’m disappointed.” said one Democratic Campaign staffer who spoke to Iowa Field Report on the condition of anonymity.

The significant drop in the party’s ability to register new voters this year compared to 2008 and the lower than expected participation at this year’s caucuses perpetuates a reoccurring narrative that there is a lack of enthusiasm for the Democrats running and their corresponding policies. Some have made the case that the Democratic Party, including its leaders, and candidates are out of touch with voters in Iowa, especially when it comes to rural voters and issues vital to them. See Iowa Field Report Op-Eds by Governor Scott Walker and Republican Consultant David Kochel.

The Iowa Secretary of State provides a monthly report on voter registration totals. Iowa currently has 1,999,608 active voters, adding inactive voters that number climbs to a total of 2,137,548.