(CNN) - The Iowa GOP's touting new voter identification numbers that indicate there are now more registered Republicans than Democrats in the Hawkeye State, a crucial battleground state in November's presidential election. But Iowa Democrats say it's inappropriate for state Republicans to highlight the new numbers.
According to voter registration numbers released Tuesday by the Iowa Secretary of State's office, there are now 608,096 Republicans registered in the state, compared to 599,225 registered Democrats. According to state officials, 669,996 voters are not registered with either the Democratic or Republican parties meaning they're independent voters.
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In a release Wednesday, the Republican Party of Iowa highlighted that the 8,000 voter advantage for the GOP is an increase from a 4,000 vote gap the prior month, and that it's the first time there have been more registered Republicans than Democrats in Iowa since 2006.
"The Republican Party of Iowa's ideals of individual liberty and lower taxes are clearly resonating with Iowans. We will continue to reach out to voters all across Iowa in the months ahead and I am confident that we will be able to grow our Party even more in the lead up to the general election," said Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker in a statement.
But the Iowa Democratic Party says it's inappropriate for their GOP counterparts to crow about the new figures, pointing out that the month by month numbers from the state indicate that each party is actually losing registered voters due to a voter maintenance effort by the secretary of state's office. And they add that even after the highly contested Republican caucuses in early January, Democrats maintained a voter registration edge, and point out that 25,000 people attended the Democratic caucuses, even though President Barack Obama was basically unopposed.
"No matter what the voter registration numbers are in the state, Iowans are rejecting Mitt Romney's economic scheme that will hurt the middle class," Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Norm Sterzenbach told CNN.
Besides being the state that traditionally kicks off the presidential caucus and primary calendar, Iowa's also a battleground, or swing state, which both parties heavily contest in presidential elections.
Vice President Al Gore narrowly carried the state over Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the 2000 election, with President George W. Bush edging out Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 contest. Sen. Barack Obama won the state by 10 points over Sen. John McCain four years ago, but Republicans captured the governor's office in the 2010 midterm elections.
The president has visited Iowa five times since formally kicking off his re-election bid in April of last year.
– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report