WATERLOO — Turnout among both Democrats and Republicans was down compared to two years ago in Black Hawk County, according to preliminary primary election results.
Though Republicans had no contested races, Democrats had contests up and down the ticket.
The Democrats’ participation rate was 12 percent, compared to 14 percent in 2014. About 3,711 Democrats voted out of 31,669 registered Democrats in the county. The figures are also lower than the statewide Democratic participation rate of 15.9 percent.
Republicans had 863 voters in Black Hawk County of a registered 22,273. Their turnout was a mere 4 percent compared with 20 percent in 2014 when there were contests for both U.S. House and Senate. Statewide GOP turnout was 14.2 percent.
University of Northern Iowa political science department head Donna Hoffman chalked up the lower turnout among Democrats in Black Hawk County in part to the more hotly contested U.S. House 1st District primary race two years ago, where five candidates, including one from Waterloo, vied for the party’s nomination.
Hoffman added, “There may be some fatigue factor given that the state of play at the national level is sucking up a lot of energy and a lot of oxygen as well.”
While fewer Democrats turned out, their voting patterns fell in line with the rest of the state.
Black Hawk County voters gave the edge to the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Patty Judge and to the Democratic 1st District nominee Monica Vernon.
Judge received 2,022 votes to her next closest contender Rob Hogg’s 1,080 votes, according to unofficial results from Black Hawk County. Democratic U.S. Senate contenders Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen received 305 votes and 205 votes, respectively. There were three write-in votes.
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Vernon received 2,589 votes, or 71.3 percent, to primary opponent Pat Murphy’s 1,037 votes.
Both Judge and Vernon outperformed their statewide figures in Black Hawk County, and both won by large margins. Judge had a nine-point advantage and Vernon had a nearly 35-point margin.
Hoffman noted the task now for the candidates — both of whom have experience running at their respective levels — would be to pivot from their primary election strategies to the general election.
“Today my question is how each of those three Democrats places themselves in terms of the national picture versus the state picture. Will they try to tie their opponents to the top of the ticket, or will they really try to focus more on local issues or state issues?” Hoffman said, mentioning also Democratic 3rd District candidate Jim Mowrer.
She said she expects presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will be back in the state to support the party’s nominees and to seek Iowa’s six electoral votes. Hoffman said she “stopped predicting” the actions of the Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Judge will face incumbent U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in the general election. Grassley received 805 votes in the Republican primary in Black Hawk County. There were 16 write-in votes. He was unopposed.
Vernon will face U.S. Rep. Rod Blum of Dubuque in the general election. Blum, who was also unopposed, received 778 votes in Black Hawk County. There were 11 write-in votes.
Democrats also had contested races in Iowa House District 63 that covers the northeastern part of the county and House District 72 that includes two precincts in southern Black Hawk County. There was also a five-way Democratic contest for three county supervisor seats.