My Friend Pamela at Atlas Shrugs used this article from NPR to talk some people off the ledge last night. Some of our mutual friends were a bit unnerved by the Obama/Huckabee victories, feeling that it would guarantee a Democratic victory in November. The fact is that if Iowa mattered, we would of had a President’s Muskie, Gephardt and Harkin., December 12, 2007 · Once upon a time, the Iowa caucus was the first step in a long process leading to the presidential nomination. Now, for some (if not many) candidates, it may be their first and final step. The purpose of all those other states in moving up their primaries and caucuses to early February was to dilute the importance of Iowa and New Hampshire. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. Never before has what happens in Iowa been so important, even if the delegates at stake (45 Democratic, 37 Republican) are minimal. With three weeks to go, the once-asterisk candidacy of Mike Huckabee is the surprise story on the Republican side, while for the Democrats the question is whether Hillary Clinton’s path to the nomination will be the slam-dunk everyone had once expected. But there’s more to it than that. For many candidates who have invested so much time and money in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, finishing well back in the pack could prove to be their Waterloo. Sometimes, winning Iowa could propel a candidate to the nomination; sometimes, it made no difference. And sometimes, you could lose Iowa and still go on to become the party’s nominee. Here’s a look at the history of what’s happened in Iowa since 1972, when its caucuses first led off the political calendar. 1972 (Jan. 25)
Democrats – Not much attention was paid to Iowa in ’72; everyone was looking ahead to see what would happen in New Hampshire, where Maine Sen. Ed Muskie, the clear front-runner, was facing a challenge from Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota, the anti-Vietnam War insurgent. But Iowa would be the first sign that Muskie’s strength was overrated. The McGovern campaign conducted an under-the-radar effort in the state, and it paid off — if not with a win, then certainly surpassing expectations. Uncommitted 36%, Muskie 35.5%, McGovern 23%. Republicans – None. 1976 (Jan. 19)
Democrats – Former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter tried to duplicate McGovern’s plan but took it one step further, spending a tremendous amount of time in the state, finishing strong with rural voters. His closest rival was Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana, who tried to rally liberal Democrats to his side. Uncommitted 37%, Carter 28%, Bayh 13%, former Oklahoma Sen. Fred Harris 10%, Rep. Mo Udall of Arizona 6%, Sargent Shriver 3%. Republicans – The GOP was slow to embrace Iowa as an early test. President Gerald Ford did not campaign in the state at all, and ex-California Gov. Ronald Reagan made one visit. In a random sampling of 62 precincts, Ford received 264 votes to Reagan’s 248. 1980 (Jan. 21)
Democrats – President Carter, citing foreign policy crises in Iran and Afghanistan, did not campaign; he sent Vice President Walter Mondale to Iowa in his stead. Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts tried in vain to engage Carter on the campaign trail. Carter 59%, Kennedy 31%, Uncommitted 10%. Republicans – With front-runner Ronald Reagan apparently taking the state for granted, a more energetic George Bush ambushed the former governor with a continuous presence in Iowa that led to an upset victory. Bush 32%, Reagan 29.5%, Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee 15%, ex-Texas Gov. John Connally 9%, Rep. Phil Crane of Illinois 7%, Rep. John Anderson of Illinois 4%, Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas 1.5%. 1984 (Feb. 20)
Democrats – Front-runner Walter Mondale, the former vice president, did not disappoint, winning nearly a majority of the vote against seven major party rivals. The big news was the disastrous showing of Sen. John Glenn of Ohio, who was thought to be Mondale’s chief rival. Mondale 49%, Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado 16.5%, ex-Sen. McGovern 10%, Uncommitted 9%, Sen. Alan Cranston of California 7%, Glenn 3.5%, ex-Florida Gov. Reubin Askew 2.5%, Jesse Jackson 1.5%. Republicans – None. (President Reagan ran unopposed for the nomination.) 1988 (Feb. 8)
Democrats – The two Midwesterners, Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Illinois Sen. Paul Simon, dominated, with Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis finishing a competitive third. Gephardt 31%, Simon 27%, Dukakis 22%, Jesse Jackson 9%, ex-Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt 6%, Uncommitted 4.5%, Gary Hart .3%. Republicans – The strong second-place showing by TV evangelist Pat Robertson, backed by a heretofore invisible throng of Christian conservative voters, sent shockwaves through the GOP establishment, and it sent Vice President George Bush into third place. Bob Dole, as expected, won the caucuses. Dole 37%, Robertson 25%, Bush 19%, Rep. Jack Kemp of New York 11%, ex-Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont 7%. 1992 (Feb. 10)
Democrats – Once Sen. Tom Harkin — of Iowa! — announced his candidacy, all the other Democrats stayed out of the state. Harkin 76%, Uncommitted 12%, ex-Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts 4%, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton 3%, Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska 2%, ex-California Gov. Jerry Brown 2%. Republicans – None. (President Bush unopposed in caucuses.) 1996 (Feb. 12)
Democrats – None. (President Clinton ran unopposed for the nomination.) Republicans – As he did in 1988, Bob Dole won again, but by a smaller margin than his campaign had hoped. The results gave a boost to TV commentator Pat Buchanan, who finished a close second, and ended the hopes of Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas. Dole 26%, Buchanan 23%, ex-Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander 18%, publisher Steve Forbes 10%, Gramm 9%, radio talk-show host Alan Keyes 7%, Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana 4%. 2000 (Jan. 24)
Democrats – Vice President Al Gore defeated ex-Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey by a huge margin. Gore 63%, Bradley 35%. Republicans – Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the establishment favorite for the nomination, won convincingly, but both Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes, who had run in ’96, did better than expected. Bush 41%, Forbes 30%, Keyes 14%, conservative activist Gary Bauer 9%, Sen. John McCain of Arizona 5%, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah 1%. 2004 (Jan. 19)
Democrats – Much of the campaign was thought to be a seesaw battle between former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Rep. Dick Gephardt, who had won the caucuses back in 1988. Both of them were upended by a late surge from Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina. Dean picked up what was thought to be key endorsements from Sen. Harkin and Al Gore. Kerry 38%, Edwards 32%, Dean 18%, Gephardt 11%, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio 1.3%. Republicans – None. (President Bush ran unopposed for the nomination.) Now, your questions: Q: Had he been elected in 2000, Al Gore would have been one of the few presidents who failed to win his home state. How many presidents have met that fate? – Herb Yood, Orleans, Mass. A: Let’s assume of course that we’re using Tennessee as Gore’s home state (as opposed to the District of Columbia, where he was actually born). And let’s assume George W. Bush’s home state is Texas, not Connecticut. Thus, with that criterion in mind, here are the three presidents who lost the state they were ostensibly “from” at the time of their election: Richard Nixon (New York) – 1968 Woodrow Wilson (New Jersey) – 1916 James Knox Polk (Tennessee) – 1844