(NASDAQ: RDFN) -- Ahead of Monday's Iowa caucuses, Redfin (www.redfin.com) reports that the percentage of registered independents who actively vote in Iowa has increased from 35.3% to 37.7% since the previous election, making independents the largest pool of voters.
Iowa has lost about equal amounts of actively registered Democrats and Republicans from November 2016 to November 2019, with Democrats at a decline of 24,000 and Republicans at a decline of 29,000, according to a Redfin analysis of voter registration data provided by the State of Iowa. However, those registered under "other" or independent has increased by 45,000, bringing the state's total count of independent voters to 750,000 or 37.7%.
The nearly equal decline of partisan voters in Iowa indicates that many people no longer identify with the established parties. However, that doesn't mean they're uninterested in voting. Iowa currently ranks fourth nationally for percent of citizens registered to vote, and it ranks ninth for voter turnout, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's November 2018 report. This high voter registration and turnout in a swing state is one of the reasons why Iowa caucuses are considered influential in the primaries and caucuses to come.
"Even though we can't predict exactly how the Iowa caucuses will pan out, the relatively consistent state-wide increase in independent voters signifies both a shift in partisanship and migration patterns," said Redfin lead economist Taylor Marr. "There are some candidates who are more appealing to the independent voters, and Iowa's new caucus format could allow them to play a larger role in many swing counties. Purple counties could turn blue."
Below is a breakdown of 20 Iowa counties with the biggest independent voter share gains since the November 2016 election. It also includes the projected Republican share of votes after these new independent voters are accounted for.
Breakdown of Independents in Iowa County
Iowa County Percent Increase Republican Share Political Net Migration in Independent of Votes After Preference (2018) Voters New Independent Voters Van Buren 5.9% -0.1% Red -80 Jackson 3.9% 2.6% Leans Red -30 Johnson 3.6% -1.2% Blue 237 Scott 3.5% 0% Purple -400 Jasper 3.5% 3.3% Leans Red -171 Polk 3.5% -2.9% Leans Blue 2064 Winnebago 3.2% -1% Red 58 Washington 3.2% -3.3% Red 41 Muscatine 3.1% -0.2% Purple -188 Woodbury 3.% -0.1% Leans Red -512 Linn 3.% -1.3% Purple 699 Louisa 3.0% -0.8% Red -57 Clay 3.0% -2.8% Red 2 Dallas 2.9% -4.1% Purple 1784 Warren 2.9% -0.5% Leans Red 485 Poweshiek 2.9% 0.8% Purple 20 Story 2.8% -2.5% Leans Blue -246 Worth 2.8% -0.2% Red -41 Webster 2.8% 3.8% Red -63
According to Redfin team manager Jacob Stanton in Des Moines, while party affiliation in Iowa feels scattered, homebuyers are "definitely skewing millennial." He noted that many Iowa residents migrated to neighboring cities such as Chicago or Minneapolis to pursue a job after college, but they're now returning to Iowa for family, affordability and a promising jobs landscape. He said that Des Moines in particular has become increasingly white collar with plenty of desirable employers, which attracts young people.
"Salaries are decent, and the cost of living is great," said Stanton. "A lot of buyers already had connections here, whether they lived in Des Moines or a more rural community. Des Moines has experienced terrific growth."
Des Moines is relatively affordable for homebuying, with a median sale price for December 2019 at $220,000, compared with Chicago at $241,000 and Minneapolis at $280,000, according to Redfin data. This means, at the median sale price, a home in Des Moines is 20% cheaper than a home in Minneapolis.
Pew Research says that independents are often younger than their partisan counterparts--and younger households also are more likely to move for careers or to start a family--so Stanton's observations could explain the influx of registered independents in certain counties. However, even Iowa counties losing residents have become increasingly independent, which further indicates shifting partisan loyalty.
Pew Research also finds that independents are more likely to lean liberal and Democrat, which could indicate increased likelihood of a Bernie Sanders win in Iowa, given his background as an independent.
About Redfin Redfin (www.redfin.com) is a technology-powered real estate brokerage, combining its own full-service agents with modern technology to redefine real estate in the consumer's favor. Founded by software engineers, Redfin has the country's #1 brokerage website and offers a host of online tools to consumers, including the Redfin Estimate, the automated home-value estimate with the industry's lowest published error rate for listed homes. Homebuyers and sellers enjoy a full-service, technology-powered experience from Redfin real estate agents, while saving thousands in commissions. Redfin serves more than 85 major metro areas across the U.S. and Canada. The company has closed more than $85 billion in home sales.
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