Iowa Mail (General Election) - Introduction

A well-placed source in Ames gathered political mail from several households for the month leading up to Election Day (starting Oct. 5).  The sample included 120 different lit. pieces from 24 different groups [Excel].  It included many attack pieces, fewer positive pieces, vote by mail application mailings, vote early and GOTV pieces and a few voter guides.  About two-thirds of the mail in the sample (81 pieces) came from the parties.  29.1% of the mail in the sample (35 pieces) focused on the 4th CD congressional race between Rep. Steve King (R) and former First Lady Christie Vilsack.  Interestingly the candidates who ended up losing, Romney and Vilsack, both inspired many different groups to send mail supporting their candidacies. 

There were several major differences between the Democratic and Repulblican mail.  Republicans' vote by mail application and vote early mailings had partisan messages (for example, "Stop the Democrats' wasteful spending") whereas comparable mailings from the Democrats were more neutral.  In addition to basic persuasion mail focusing on Romney and Obama, Republicans sent out a number of pieces with more general "Vote Republican" messages (for example, "The Democrats' Job-Killing Policies Broke Our Economy"); this type of mail was not seen from the Democrats.  Looking at the parties' presidential mail, there were major differences in format.  Most of the Republican pieces were single fold 5 1/2" x 11" that opened to 11" x 11" (held closed in the mail by little spots of adhesive).  Democrats went big and bold; of the 26 persuasion mail pieces in the sample, 11 were 8 1/2" x 14" cards, eight were 8 1/2" x 11" cards, and seven were single fold that opened, most to 8 1/2" x 22".  In addition to the parties, eleven different interest groups weighed in on the presidential or broader race. 

Iowa Democratic Party  |  Iowa Republican Party  |  Interest Groups-Presidential

A Sample of Political Mail from Iowa, Oct. 5-Nov. 3, 2012
Group (Total # Lit. Pieces)

Political Parties (81)

Iowa Democratic Party (40)

     Vote by Mail / GOTV
Democratic National Committee (coord.) (1)

     Pres. Persuasion
Iowa Republican Party (40)

     Vote by Mail / Vote Early
     Vote Republican
Interest Groups-Presidential (17)

Patriot Majority USA

American Petroleum Institute*, American Future Fund, American Values Action, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform (3), CitizenLink/The Family Leader, Ending Spending Action Fund (2), Faith & Freedom Coalition (2), National Right to Life Comm. PAC, NRA-PVF

Interest Groups-Congressional (18)

AFSCME (2), CULAC, the PAC of Credit Union National Association (2), Humane Society Legislative Fund (3), Immigrants' List PAC/Immigrants' List Civic Action, Inc. (3), Iowans for Integrity in Leadership (3), Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa (4)

Campaign for Working Families PAC (1)

Others (4)

Justice Not Politics Action [Yes on Retention] (1), Dane Nealson for Representative (2), Citizens for Wiessel-Kroeschell [State. Rep.] (1)
Total: 120

*American Petroleum Institute and Patriot Majority USA mailings do not mention specific candidates.