A History of the “Hawkeye Cauc-eye”
When Ted Cruz surged to the top of a Republican Iowa caucus poll in December, someone who isn’t too keen on the Texas senator made an interesting comment. “Good,” he said, “winning Iowa is the death knell for presidential candidates.” Is he right? Is it better to lose in Iowa than to be victorious? For all its fame as the first nomination contest and the influence it presumably wields from its early results, perhaps Iowa caucus goers aren’t so good at picking the eventual nominees. I recently took a look at the reader’s claim through the prism of history and offer the following pages as a response.
Interestingly, presidential elections have been held in this country for a lot longer than the Iowa Caucus. In fact, the birth of the event did not occur until 1972, almost 200 years after George Washington was elected our first president on February 4, 1789. The history of the Iowa Caucus, therefore, did not provide reams of data from which to draw conclusions about the reader’s assertion. Nevertheless, taking a tour of the Iowa Caucuses over the last 40+ years was enlightening and educational. I hope you’ll find the information I’ve uncovered entertaining and worth a read.In calculating the results, I omitted years in which the incumbent president was running for re-election. These include Republicans Ronald Reagan in 1984, George H.W. Bush in 1992 and George W. Bush in 2004 and Democrats Jimmy Carter in 1980, Bill Clinton in 1996 and Barack Obama in 2012.
Click the link below to begin our tour of all the Iowa Caucuses spanning both parties and nearly half-century of presidential elections.