With Oct. 24 marking just 100 days until the Iowa caucuses, Wake Forest University Professor of Politics John Dinan can comment on the mixed record of the Midwestern electoral event in determining presidential nominations.
“There is no denying the importance of the Iowa caucuses in narrowing the field of viable candidates and sometimes propelling a candidate to the nomination, as with John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 especially,” Dinan said. “But the predictive value of the Iowa caucuses in recent decades is rather modest, especially on the Republican side.”
He says Democratic winners in Iowa have definitely fared better in the general election than their Republican counterparts. “Of the seven contested Republican nominations in the post-1968 modern system, the top vote-getter in Iowa has lost the Republican nomination more often than not, with Iowa winners Rick Santorum in 2012, Mike Huckabee in 2008, Bob Dole in 1988, and George H.W. Bush in 1980 all losing the nomination. By contrast, of the nine contested Democratic nominations during this period, the Iowa winner has generally gone on to win the nomination, with the exception of Iowa senator Tom Harkin in 1992, Dick Gephardt in 1988 and Ed Muskie in 1972.“
Dinan teaches courses on campaigns and elections, voter behavior, and state politics. He frequently provides commentary for news outlets across the country and is the author of “The American State Constitutional Tradition” and numerous articles on state and federal politics.
About Wake Forest University: Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at www.wfu.edu.
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