Serious Time Begins in Presidential Election

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The 2016 Presidential Election

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February 1, 2016

The importance of the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primaries, many observers say, is in narrowing the number of presidential candidates. In terms of predicting an eventual nominee or President, Iowa and New Hampshire are not perfect.

In the past 10 elections, dating to 1976, five candidates won in New Hampshire and then became the Republican nominee for President. They were Gerald Ford (1976), Ronald Reagan (1980 and 1984), George Bush (1988), and George W. Bush (2004). Reagan and both Bushes were elected President. (George W. Bush was the incumbent in 2004.)

As for Iowa, three of the past 10 Republican caucuses have produced a Republican nominee: Ford (1976), Reagan (incumbent in 1984), and George W. Bush (2000 and 2004 (incumbent)). Reagan and Bush were elected President.

In the Democratic field, the eventual nominee has won in Iowa in 1976 and 1980 (both Carter), 1984 (Mondale), 1996 (Clinton, incumbent), 2000 (Gore), 2008 (Obama), and 2012 (Obama, incumbent). Of those, Carter, Clinton, and Obama were elected President.

New Hampshire’s Democratic primary has chosen an eventual overall nominee in 1976 and 1980 (both Carter), 1988 (Dukakis), 1996 (Clinton, incumbent), 2000 (Gore), 2004 (Kerry), and 2012 (Obama, incumbent).

In recent memory, no Republican who has lost both Iowa and New Hampshire has gone on to secure the nomination.

The Democratic Party has a more recent success story with a nominee who lost in both Iowa and New Hampshire. In 1992, Tom Harkin won in Iowa and Paul Tsongas won in New Hampshire, but Bill Clinton won the nomination and was then elected President.

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