Iowa statewide voting patterns:1891-1912: naturalization does not create voting citizens

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Atkinson, Sue
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Andrejs Plakans
Pamela Riney-kehrberg
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The Department of History seeks to provide students with a knowledge of historical themes and events, an understanding of past cultures and social organizations, and also knowledge of how the past pertains to the present.

The Department of History was formed in 1969 from the division of the Department of History, Government, and Philosophy.

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Analysis of voting in political history can be problematic if sampling is used without regard for demographics, location, and participation rates. This project used population data, rather than sampling, from the township level, for the entire state of Iowa, beginning with the 1890 census (covering the gubernatorial election of 1891 and presidential election of 1892), moving on to the 1900 census (covering the presidential election of 1900 and the gubernatorial election of 1902), and ended with the 1910 census covering the combined presidential and gubernatorial election of 1912). By the 1912 election the secret ballot had been adopted, so all candidates for all positions and parties appeared on the same ballot. Regression analysis examined religious affiliation and ethnicity for voting preferences, as well as generation in the country.

Iowa can be divided into five geologic regions that present different circumstances for the diversified farming operations existing within each region. Southern Democrats initially settled in two of the regions (containing the worst soil in the state), writing the state constitution, generally voting the Democrat ticket, and having the highest participation rates coupled with the lowest immigration rates in the state for the time of this study. The remaining three regions saw largest number of immigrants settling on the best land in the state. Participation rates for foreign-born lagged the native-born of native-born parents and native-born of foreign-born parents.

Regression analysis showed more of a breakdown between liberal and conservative than by ethnicity, religious affiliation, or generation in the country. Analysis by region revealed more consistency in voting outcomes, but the geologic regions were divided to form eleven congressional districts whose voting outcomes marginalized some groups and emphasized others. Political divisions based on population count crosscut the circumstances of location, rearranging the distribution of demographics and, thus, votes.

At the county level, results remained more consistent for the time of this study. Political power between Democrats and Republicans in Iowa remained close, with the selection of issues enticing some to vote and some to stay home on election day. Voting in the 1912 election showed the political savvy of Iowans as they took advantage of the secret ballot to vote for Progressive candidate Roosevelt for President (giving Democrat Wilson the win because Progressive issues crosscut more Republican issues than Democrat), but ignore Progressive Candidate Stevens for governor, as another Republican governor won election in the state.

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Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2010