Iowa Democrats, Republicans at Parity

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

John Deere tractors drive down East Grand Street during the Iowa State Fair Parade on August 10, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Here’s more evidence underscoring Iowa’s status as a swing state: Updated voter registration statistics show Democrats and Republicans at virtual parity.

Democrats led Republicans on the registration rolls by 617,736 to 617,091 voters as of yesterday, a difference of 645 voters out of 1,941,788 active registrants, according to a report from the office of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz.

That’s a difference of three one-hundredths of one percentage point.

“Swing state horse race tightens,” Schultz’s office said in a posting on Twitter yesterday announcing the totals.

Unaffiliated registrants, at 703,932 voters, are more numerous than either Democrats or Republicans.

Republicans led Democrats by 21,378 voters a year ago, partly because Republicans had held competitive presidential caucuses in January 2012. Democrats narrowed the deficit to 1,400 voters by November, when President Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney in Iowa and nationwide.

While voter registration figures aren’t predictive of election outcomes, the Iowa statistics call attention to the state’s status as a battleground where the two parties are evenly matched.

Iowa’s four-person U.S. House delegation has two Democrats and two Republicans. In the Senate, Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Tom Harkin have served Iowa for decades. Republicans lead the state House by 53-47, while Democrats control the Senate by 26-24.

Obama carried Iowa by 52 percent to 46 percent in the 2012 election, close to his nationwide margin of 51 percent to 47 percent. Iowa was one of seven states that sided with the White House winner in each of the past three elections, and only Iowa and New Mexico sided with the national popular vote winner in each of the past four presidential elections.

The next big gauge of Iowa’s political leanings will be the 2014 Senate election for retiring Harkin’s seat. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report presently rates the race as a tossup.

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