DES MOINES – Gov. Terry Branstad said Tuesday the critical role that Iowa will play in the 2012 presidential election outcome could send Iowans to the polls in record numbers next month.
Speaking at his weekly news conference Tuesday, Branstad said he believes undecided voters are now tuning into the tight race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney and he is encouraged by the momentum he sees with the GOP challenger.
“We’re one of the key battleground states,” the five-term GOP governor said. “I think that Iowa could be the deciding factor. I’m not going to say that we’re absolutely the deciding factors, but obviously we’re one of the critical battleground states and that’s why it’s so important for Iowans to take this seriously and why I hope that we’ll have an absolute record turnout.”
However, Brad Anderson, Obama for America Iowa state director, issued a memo refuting the GOP momentum claims, saying the campaign’s 67 offices in Iowa hundreds of experienced volunteer-led neighborhood teams are “ahead of where we were at this time against John McCain – and ahead of Mitt Romney” thanks in part to “unprecedented” early voting numbers. Anderson said Democrats have a lead of nearly 55,000 ballots cast and the margin is growing.
More evidence of how important the two presidential candidates consider Iowa’s six electoral votes in a tight race will be on display Wednesday when Obama campaigns in Davenport and Romney visits Cedar Rapids.
“I don’t know that we can say for sure that, ‘As Iowa goes, so goes the nation,’ but obviously both sides know how important this is,” Branstad told reporters Tuesday.
Branstad said he expects to see Republicans turn out “in big numbers” on Nov. 6 and he believes the undecided voters will break in Romney’s favor because historically that’s been the trend when an incumbent has had four years to make a case for re-election and has failed to make the sell. “If you’re below 50 percent, you’re in danger as an incumbent,” he noted.