Republicans will need to examine their strategy moving forward, political analysts said, as Iowa concurred with the rest of the nation in voting for a second term for President Obama.
Iowa State University political science professor Steffen Schmidt pointed to the gridlock in Congress as an example of a game plan that didn’t work and one that will need attention in the GOP’s day-after “autopsy” of the election.
“I think that was a bad strategy,” Schmidt said, pointing to fiscal issues, the Farm Bill and other legislation. “(Voters) didn’t like the gridlock. They wanted Congress to get something done.”
Obama had the vote of women, Hispanics and younger Iowans, Schmidt noted, which will be challenging for the Republican Party to turn around in coming years.
Timothy Hagle, associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa, said early voting made up for some of the fall in enthusiasm for the presidential candidates.
“It’s the question of turnout,” said Hagle, who watched election results come in on four monitors at his home Tuesday night.
Hagle noted that Democrats brought in celebrities to excite younger voters and encourage them to vote early, particularly in college towns like Iowa City.
“It seems to have worked to their advantage,” he said.
With the presidential race coming down to key battleground states, every vote mattered in Iowa.
“At the end of the day, this really is a game of inches,” said state Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky of Coralville.
Dvorsky, at the Hotel Fort Des Moines with Iowa Democratic Party leaders and representatives of President Obama’s campaign, said supporters were knocking on doors and making phone calls until the polls closed at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
“Our field organization is a model for other parts of the country,” she said. “If there is a house within driving distance and it’s a quarter to 9, we’ll show up.”
Dvorsky said that organization made the difference in the campaign, allowing Obama to earn the state’s six electoral votes on the way to a national victory over former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney.
Just after midnight, with 96 percent of precincts reporting, Obama had 770,729 votes, or 52 percent of Iowa’s total, to Romney’s 688,211 votes, at 47 percent.
ISU’s Schmidt said the record voter turnout in Iowa was one of this year’s election surprises.
“The turnout was bigger than in 2008, which no one predicted,” he said.
Cheers rang out at the First Avenue Club in Iowa City, as Terry Dahms, chairman of the Johnson County Democratic Party, heard Iowa’s returns come in Obama’s favor.
At just 10:15 p.m., some media outlets had already called the election for Barack Obama.
“When we first came in, I was hoping for a win,” Dahms said. “Now I’m hoping for a mandate. It may take a mandate to move things forward.”
Dahms referred to rescinding Bush-era tax cuts and other measures that Obama has backed, but he added that it would take help from Congress to make that progress.
State and county Republican Party leaders did not return calls Tuesday night.