Saturday, January 30, 2010

On this day: Obama wins the Iowa Caucus

Just two years ago (although it seems like longer) some big-eared black dude won the Iowa caucuses and then, apparently, went on to win the White House and now we are all socialist. But the launching pad for Obama was the Iowa caucuses.

While the caucuses are now a quadrennial fixture on the political calendar, they're a relatively recent phenomenon. The first caucuses were in 1976, when Jimmy Carter came in second to an uncommitted slate (and claimed a win). But they were bigger news in 1980, and rose through 1988. In 1992, native son Tom Harkin won the state without competition, but the relevance grew through Howard Dean's scream in 2004. With the date of the caucuses moved so early in 2008, that year didn't eclipse '04, but the cycle, with 2007 garnering nearly as much press as 2008, did.

How big are the Iowa caucuses in an otherwise not-that-interesting (no offense, Iowa) state? Well, you can pick them out on a chart of, simply, Iowa:

Of course, compare that to New Hampshire, where, apparently, there's really no industry outside of the primary

especially since 1988, when New Hampshire seems to get double the press play in election cycle years as it does at other times.

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