I don’t have anything against Iowa’s Republican caucus goers. They’re nice people, good Americans, conscientious and aware of their responsibilities as voters in the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. (Iowa Democratic caucus goers are like this too.)
But the Iowa Republican caucuses have a poor record in choosing their party’s nominees. In the five presidential nominating cycles with active Iowa Republican caucus competition, the Hawkeye State has voted for the eventual Republican nominee only twice—in 1996 for Bob Dole, in 2000 for George W. Bush—and only once was the Iowa winner elected president.
The state’s Democrats have a better record, producing a surprise victory for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and a big victory for eventual nominee Walter Mondale in 1984. They faltered in 1988 as Dick Gephardt and Paul Simon came in ahead of nominee Michael Dukakis, and in 1992, when Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin swept the field. But they gave big victories to Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008.