In 2000, the Iowa Caucus results were:

Candidate %
Bush 41
Forbes 30
Keyes 14
Bauer 9
McCain 5

Only 2 of the top 5 candidates were even serious contenders in later states. Fifty-four percent of the vote went to people who were clearly dead in the water. (and 5% went to a guy who didn’t campaign in the state). The 3 candidates that earned 54% were all candidates of the religious right. This is not mysterious. I have not been to Iowa in January, but it is cold. Investment bankers don’t go drive in the cold to stand in a room for hours at a time.

There are several implications here. First, electability may not matter so much to actual Iowa caucusgoers. On the other hand, organization does. And, third, the religious vote does. As I have noted before, Sam Brownback and John McCain have split the major pro-life activists. Mitt Romney is working on the county chairmen. Rudy Giuliani probably has to fight with Romney for the County Chairmen apparatus and with McCain for the moderates, as many as actually come. And Mike Huckabee will share the fight for religious conservatives.

The upshot is that Sam Brownback could credibly knock off one of the three front runners, McCain, Giuliani, and Romney. Huckabee’s entrance may make that harder. But we can assume that there will be a 4th-place finish for a GOP frontrunner in Iowa, effectively killing his candidacy. Who will it be? And does Huckabee’s entrance make that less likely by taking votes from Brownback? Or does he also take votes from Romney?

5 Comments » Will Huckabee get to define Huckabee? · February 12, 2007 at 7:14 AM

[…] For Huckabee, there are two or three issues. First, can he perform in Iowa? The argument that Huckabee can succeed in Iowa — here succeed means, probably, a top-3 finish — works like this. Huckabee is a great speaker. He was a pastor and knows how to connect to his audience. The most Republican part of Iowa is out West and Protestant. (this is important because the eastern part of Catholic but more Democratic… The Republicans here would seem like natural Brownback stomping ground) Huckabee should be able to mobilize voters, and, as I’ve argued, there is no shortage of conservative voters in Iowa. If Iowa social conservatives vote on that issue alone, then Huckabee would be my pick for top-performing "conservative" candidate. […] » New Hampshire is weird: The importants of guns · March 21, 2007 at 2:05 PM

[…] In some ways, each state in the early process of the Presidential nominations captures something about the GOP electorate. I have noted that Iowa tends to emphasize religious conservatives. In New Hampshire, the "Live Free or Die" state, it is much more libertarian focusing on issues like guns and, to some extent, taxes. But the tax guys are focused on local elections, so the only real force in New Hampshire focused on the national ballot is the gun guys. […] » Giuliani signs Forbes · March 28, 2007 at 10:19 AM

[…] This is a big deal, and Ryan Sager has it.. Rudy Giuliani was endrosed by Steve Forbes today. Forbes ran in 2000 and performed well, 30%, in Iowa, and so-so in New Hampshire. But what Forbes has is a network and lists. One of my persistent criticisms of the Giuliani campaign has been that there has not been an in-state organization. Signing Forbes helps a huge amount. […] » Does Florida’s advance foreground immigration? · May 22, 2007 at 5:39 PM

[…] I think that this raises an interesting process point. There has been much talk about adding Nevada to the Democratic schedule having the impact of foregrounding Hispanics and service workers unions. And I have written about the timing and composition of the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary highlight social conservatives and guns as issues, respectively. […] » The most important question in Iowa · December 13, 2007 at 6:40 PM

[…] On the other hand, Iowa could just be Iowa. I am not convinced that this stuff works in a low-turnout caucus. I don’t think that anyone is persuading undecideds. Perhaps people are being turning off to being Huckabee supporters. […]

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