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Is a win in Iowa all that important?

By SUSAN WALKER
December 12, 2011

Mike Huckabee: His 2008 win in Iowa didn't mean much

With the Iowa caucuses set to officially open the primary election season just after the first of the year, a perennial debate rages inside Republican political circles:  Is Iowa all that important.

The state’s convoluted caucus system, which allows a candidate with the best in-state organization to pack the results, produces a lot of hoopla but the winner in Iowa doesn’t always go on to capture the nomination.

Mike Huckabee won Iowa in 2008.  Mike who?  Exactly.  Mitt Romney finished second and Fred Thompson finished in a third place tie with John McCain.  Huckabee, Romney and Thompson faded after Iowa. McCain went on to win the nomination before losing to Barack Obama in the general election.

Bob Dole won Iowa in 1988.  Evangelist Pat Robertson came in second.  George H.W. Bush, who went on to win the nomination, finished third.

Bush beat Ronald Reagan in Iowa in 1980 but Reagan won the nomination down the road.

Some say a good second place finish in Iowa can provide momentum to win the nomination. Past second place finishers there include Mitt Romney, Steve Forbes, Pat Buchanan and Robertson.  Most were gone by South Carolina in the years they finished second.

“Iowa is a lot of hoopla but not a lot of substance,” long-time political watcher Alan Gustin tells Capitol Hill Blue. “Candidates blow a lot of time and money there with little return on their investments.”

On the Democratic side, Tom Harkin won Iowa in 1992.  Eventual nominee Bill Clinton finished third. Dick Gephardt captured the state in 1988 but third place finisher Michael Dukakis went on to capture the nomination.

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5 Responses to Is a win in Iowa all that important?

  1. Bill Cravener

    December 12, 2011 at 5:33 am

    “Iowa is a lot of hoopla but not a lot of substance,”

    This is as I see it and believe Iowa is a good example of the word hype. Clearly there’s less to victory in Iowa than the politicians and pundits would have us believe. There is that odd thing about third place though. :)

  2. Gregg

    December 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Just like many would love to see “None of the Above” on election ballots, I’d love to see it added to opinion polls for presidential candidates.

  3. Danny Adams

    December 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Iowa’s caucuses are a remnant, I think, of an older age and a misbelief: for the former, when pre-Internet newspapers relied on such things to get the feel of the way the wind was blowing; and for the latter, the misbelief that Iowa (and I say this reluctantly since my maternal grandmother and her family came from there, and I’ve been there several times) represented what the nation at large was thinking, as many have believed about the Midwest in general. Susan Walker did a pretty good job here of exploding the myth that the Iowa caucuses harbor any kind of real representation.

  4. Carl Nemo **==

    December 13, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Regardless of who ‘wins’ in Iowa, seemingly we are being offered evil political garbage for candidates.

    We have one sitting as preznit with these ‘rethug’ hopefuls promising everything, but ‘nothing’ at the same time in the final analysis to the electorate. They’ve learned well from our current presidential, silver-tongued usurper in chief…no?

    Seemingly we are doomed as a function of their globalist controllers’ marching orders…no?

    Carl Nemo **==

  5. Gregg

    December 13, 2011 at 8:53 am

    When I see current polls published by various organizations, which shows X % approval of one candidate over the other – in my opinion, a huge red flag should fly high.
    .
    For me – from the results of these polls is a hardcore realization that an incredible number of people are STILL buying into Political lies, deceptions, and diversions being consistently shelled out by the same people who are repeatedly re-elected.
    .
    Newcomers on the scene are also well indoctrinated by the same machines that prop up these lifer (or wannabe lifer) incumbents.
    .
    Obviously, polls show that nothing has changed with the electorate’s political knowledge or gullibility so nothing can change in our political system and government.