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HISTORICAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK - "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other." ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

HOW IMPORTANT IS IOWA ?

After more than one year of constant campaigning, the Iowa Caucus is only one month away. The first test in the quest for both the Republican and the Democrat nomination for President in 2008.

Over the past few weeks the numbers have tightened to the point that on the Republican side the race is a virtual dead heat between a surging Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney with Rudy Giuliani a distant third.

On the Democrat side of the coin, some polls have Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama in a statistical tie with Edwards only a few points behind. Other polls have Obama in the lead with Hillary second and again Edwards a close third.

How important then is Iowa ? Has the anticipation for real and solid numbers from the first actual vote given Iowa a greater importance that it actually is ? After all candidates in both parties have been campaigning for more than a year with no real results other than constant polls that at times change with the wind and as with any poll are only a somewhat weak indicator of real election results.

Remember the polls had President Bush and John Kerry in a dead heat in 2004, while exit polls had Kerry winning in a landslide. So has the anticipation for real numbers given a false significance to the results from Iowa next month ?

Looking at past Caucuses, a picture develops indicating that Iowa has a rather small significance in choosing the actual nominee. For instance, in 1972 Edmund Muskie defeated George McGovern by 13% but McGovern went on to win the Democrat nomination and lost to Republican Richard Nixon in the General Election.

In 1976 the , "uncommitted , " vote won over second place candidate Jimmy Carter by 11%. Carter claimed a victory as the named candidate with the highest vote total and won the nomination and the Presidency after his second place finish in Iowa.

In 1980 Carter beat Ted Kennedy and went on to lose re-election to Ronald Reagan. 1992 had Tom Harkin as the winner with 76% of the vote and eventual nominee Bill Clinton receiving only 3%.

On the Republican side the story is similar. Republicans have not participated in the Iowa Caucus as extensively as Democrats with 1976 being the first GOP caucus which had an extremely poor turn out. 1980 was the first push by the GOP in Iowa with George H. W. Bush defeating Ronald Reagan by 2%. Reagan of course won the nomination and the Presidency.

In 1988 Bob Dole took the Iowa Caucus with 37% to Pat Robertson's 25%. George H. W. Bush the eventual nominee was a distant third with 19%. In the last three elections, 1996, 2000 and an unopposed George Bush in 2004 the eventual nominee for the GOP won the Iowa Caucus.

From a historical stand point the Iowa Caucus has had little to do with the election of the eventual nominee especially in the Democrat Party. While Republican candidates have fared better, only two election years that held Caucuses with a candidate who faced party opposition since 1980 found the winner going on to the nomination. George Bush in 2000 and Bob Dole in 1996.

This year could very well follow the same pattern as the past. While Huckabee is enjoying a huge surge over the past few weeks. But based on an average of all polling Rudy Giuliani still leads nationally and in later primaries Huckabee is still down in the polls compared to Giuliani, Romney and Thompson both nationally and in early primary states like South Carolina and Florida.

The Democrat numbers are similar, based on an average of all polling, Clinton is leading nationally and Obama and Edwards are down in some cases by double digits in the early primary states.

It would seem that the anticipation of finally seeing solid results after a year of constant campaigning may be placing a far greater significance on Iowa than the , "Hawkeye State, " actually holds in Presidential politics. Will 2008 be a different story than actual results from past elections ? Possibly. Iowa could give a rather nice boost to the winners in both parties for later primaries, but the evidence from the past shows otherwise.




Ken Taylor

9 Comments:

Blogger Marie's Two Cents said...

I'm not sure Iowa matters that much.

Dean won Iowa in '04 and look where it got him?

Then again ya never know.

2:01 PM, December 04, 2007  
Blogger Gayle said...

Marie is right: "ya never know"!

Trying to predict politics is like predicting the actions of a scitzophrenic... you never know what to expect.

6:37 PM, December 04, 2007  
Blogger Rob said...

Dean LOST in Iowa even though he was polling higher. Kerry surprised in Iowa. After Dean lost Iowa the whole Dem race turned. It was critically important, as I am sure it will be this year.

12:54 PM, December 05, 2007  
Anonymous Andy said...

This whole Iowa thing is stupid. CNN reported today that Mike Huckabee is going on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, campaigning for votes in California.
To me that sounds like a better idea than campaigning in little old Iowa. When he chips are down and time to cash in your votes, California's 54 Electoral Votes mean a lot more than Iowa's 3.

5:15 PM, January 02, 2008  
Anonymous Iowa Gal said...

I'm always amazed at how many people think Iowa doesn't matter yet we have the first caucuses and have the attention of the nation. We don't belittle anyone else's state yet Iowa bashing/hate seems to be acceptable.

11:53 PM, January 05, 2008  
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