The question that this article addresses stemmed from a comment an Election Projection reader made when he learned that Ted Cruz has surged into the lead in Iowa in December. He opined that winning Iowa was the death knell for presidential hopefuls, especially Republicans.
From what we’ve seen over the last fifty years, Iowa caucus winners have enjoyed mixed results in the final nomination results. Of 8 Democratic contests not including an incumbent, over half of the winners went on to capture the nomination. Not quite half the Republican winners can say the same.
So, is the reader correct in his assessment? Will this year’s Iowa caucus winners be doomed to endorse another for the nomination come convention time? My first thought is that the pool of results is too small to make any definitive conclusions. However, from the data available, it’s hard to agree with the reader.
To be sure, it appears that winning Iowa does not punch one’s ticket to the general election ballot, but neither, I would say, is it a death knell. What Iowa does appear to be – at least in recent Republican elections – is an endorsement of more conservative candidates who go on to lose the nomination to establishment candidates. If the reader is right, that would mean a Cruz victory would lead to another establishment candidate nominee.Of course, as a Trump supporter, the reader isn’t hoping for an establishment nominee to follow Cruz’s hypothetical Iowa triumph. And that begs another question for him as one who backs The Donald – if Trump wins the Republican Hawkeye Cauc-eye, will he assume Trump’s campaign is destined for an early demise? Probably not.