Iowa voters engaged in state, national races

Associated Press Published: November 5, 2012
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The races in the first and second districts lean toward incumbent Democrats because of a slight voter registration edge.

Democrat Bruce Braley is facing a rematch with 2010 Republican challenger Ben Lange in the 1st district, and incumbent Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack moved to Iowa City in order to remain in the 2nd district, where he's facing GOP attorney John Archer.

Political advertising has dominated Iowa's airwaves for months, and the constant barrage of rallies, phone calls and door-knocking have many voters awaiting the end of campaign season.

"People are going to be glad when we forget their names and forget where their houses are," said Caroline Koppes, an Obama campaign volunteer who was working Monday at Democratic headquarters in Dubuque.

Yet people are engaged, setting a record for early voting with more than 600,000 absentee or in-person ballots cast by last weekend, and there were lines Monday at some county election offices.

At the Johnson County administration building in Iowa City, Jaime Lang, a 31-year-old factory worker from North Liberty, voted Monday at the encouragement of neighbors. Lang said he backs Obama.

"I just think that he pretty much knows what America needs. I think he's taking the right steps," Lang said. "It's going to take more time to try to make everything right with what Bush left him."

Bryan Dobes, 21, a University of Iowa student from suburban Chicago, said he voted early for Romney so he could observe at a polling place Tuesday with College Republicans. The finance major said unemployment and spending have been too high under Obama.

"He promised a lot of hope and change, and I'm not seeing it," Dobes said.

As one of nine remaining tossup states in the presidential race, Iowa has been lavished with an unusual amount of attention.

Obama planned to wrap up his campaign Monday night in Des Moines, a nod to the state that handed him his first victory in the 2008 presidential caucuses. Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan also planned to stop there Monday.

Washington politics aside, it's the legislative races that may result in the biggest changes for Iowa.

Republicans are hoping to win a majority in the state Senate, clearing the way to push an ambitious agenda backed by GOP Gov. Terry Branstad that calls for tax cuts, education changes and social policy moves related to abortion and same-sex marriage.

The gay marriage issue also is reflected in a judicial retention vote for David Wiggins, one of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined in a 2009 ruling that cleared the way for same-sex marriage.

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Associated Press reporter Ryan J. Foley contributed to this report from Iowa City.