Special Report

Here’s How Important the Iowa Caucuses Were in Every Election

Source: 24/7 Wall St.


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Ronald Reagan
> IA Caucus vote: 42.5%

Given the legacy of President Ronald Reagan, it may be hard to conceive that he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination twice, in 1968 and 1976. In 1976, he finished second with 43% of the vote, losing to Gerald Ford by 2 percentage points.

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Gerald Ford
> IA Caucus vote: 45.3%

Gerald Ford, who became president after the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974, survived former governor of California Ronald Reagan’s strong showing to win the Iowa caucuses by less than 3 percentage points. Reagan’s conservative insurgency would challenge Ford all the way to the Republican National Convention before Ford secured the nomination. Ford, haunted by his pardon of disgraced former president Richard Nixon, would lose to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election.

Source: 24/7 Wall St.

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Howard Baker
> IA Caucus vote: 15.3%

Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker, who had been distinguished as a dispassionate member on the Senate Watergate Committee, was unable to leverage that credibility as a presidential candidate. Baker finished third in the Iowa caucuses, behind George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, and dropped out of the race.

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Ronald Reagan
> IA Caucus vote: 29.5%

Former governor of California Ronald Reagan finished second to George H.W. Bush in the Iowa caucuses. But his showing served notice that his conservative message was a force to be reckoned with. Reagan won the New Hampshire primary easily and his momentum grew, culminating in his victory in the Michigan primary in May of 1980 that knocked Bush out of the race. Bush was the last of six challengers to Reagan to concede defeat. Reagan won the nomination and would go on to rout President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election.

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George H.W. Bush
> IA Caucus vote: 36.0%

George H.W. Bush, moderate candidate of the Republican establishment, won the Iowa caucuses with 36% of the vote over former governor of California Ronald Reagan. However, Reagan’s conservative campaign strengthened and eventually overwhelmed the Bush candidacy.

Source: 24/7 Wall St.


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George H.W. Bush
> IA Caucus vote: 18.6%

The 1988 Iowa race is another example of a candidate who received the most votes but did not win the party’s presidential nomination. Though Bob Dole won 37.4% of the votes in Iowa and George H.W. Bush finished third with 18.6% of the vote, it was Bush that won the party nomination. He then also won the general election.

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Pat Robertson
> IA Caucus vote: 24.6%

Former television evangelist and conservative presidential candidate Pat Robertson, boosted by a strong organization in Iowa, startled the Republican establishment by finishing second in the 1988 Iowa caucuses. His momentum dissipated in New Hampshire, however, where he finished fifth out of six candidates in that state’s primary, getting 9% of the vote.

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