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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

History evidences that media inflates value of Iowa Caucuses

While the Iowa caucuses kick-off the 2008 presidential primary campaign and are a great source of revenue for the Iowa economy, the results are not as important. "History clearly shows, winning Iowa does not "seal the deal" for any candidate." Bill Clinton lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and survived to win his party's nomination. But the Media still loves to inflate the value of the caucuses.

Gray Bauer provides some historical insights today:
The winners will enjoy tremendous free media and a spike in fundraising, while others may see their campaigns cut short. Howard Dean certainly comes to mind. In the early days of the 2004 campaign, Dean was charging in the polls and many considered him the Democrat front runner - until the Iowa caucuses and the now famous "Dean Scream" that followed. Within hours of the results being announced this evening, the candidates will fly to New Hampshire, where Granite State voters will have the opportunity, on January 8th, to affirm or reject the judgment of Iowa. And frequently that judgment is rejected because the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire are very different people. Here's a brief history to consider.

In 1980, George H. W. Bush won the Iowa caucuses, but lost New Hampshire. In 1988, Bob Dole won the Iowa caucuses, but lost New Hampshire. That same year, Reverend Pat Robertson posted a surprisingly strong second place finish in Iowa, but fell to fifth in New Hampshire. In 1996, Bob Dole again won Iowa and again lost New Hampshire. In 2000, George W. Bush won Iowa by 11 points, but lost New Hampshire by nearly 20 points. The history is similar for the Democrats. In 1984, Walter Mondale won Iowa, but lost New Hampshire. In 1988, Dick Gephardt won Iowa, but lost New Hampshire. In 1992, "favorite son" Tom Harkin won Iowa, but finished fourth in New Hampshire. As a result of these split decisions, the campaigns continued on to Super Tuesday, and I suspect 2008 will be no different.

New Hampshire voters also tend to have a "soft spot" for Massachusetts politicians, since much of New Hampshire is covered by Boston media. For example, Michael Dukakis won in 1988, Paul Tsongas won in 1992 and John Kerry won in 2004. Two eventually won their party's nomination, but none became president. As the history clearly shows, winning Iowa does not "seal the deal" for any candidate. And here's an interesting footnote: One recent candidate actually lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and survived, winning his party's nomination and ultimately the general election! That candidate was Bill Clinton in 1992.

Tags: Election 2008, Gary Bauer, History, Iowa Caucus, Media, presidential candidates
Posted by Bill Smith at 2:00 PM - Post Link

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