There is a lot of ‘scoffing’ that goes on over the attention and power Iowa receives for their presidential nominee caucuses. Due to the state’s small population, many critics liken the Iowa Caucus to a student body election where the difference between first place and third place comes down to only 4000 votes. Regardless of the perspectives of the naysayers, the Iowa Caucus is extremely crucial in determining who will win the presidential nomination for each party. Really? But why? Allow us to enlighten you on a phenomenon that has driven each political race since 1972, be it logical or illogical.
Put simply, Iowa gets to go first. They always get to go first. This means that Iowa is the very first true test of each candidate, their message and their influence. Candidates who don’t make it to first, second or third in Iowa or New Hampshire usually end up dropping out of the race fairly quickly thereafter. The results in Iowa coupled with the amount of voter turnout send strong, telling messages to party leadership, donors, voters around the country and of course, the candidates.
To improve their chances, the candidates spend a great deal of time campaigning in Iowa, which naturally, draws the media and large-scale coverage. The Iowa Caucus is a media saturated event that is full of reporters who are eager to drop their heavy handed opinions and judgment on the results and why they occurred. Each candidate will fall into one of three categories with the media during this event based on the results of their performances and preliminary the polls leading up to the big event: good press, bad press or no press. This press can elevate a candidate to an elite status, or cause them to plummet due to negative coverage and ruin them and their chances at winning the nomination.
The media will have already designated expectations for each candidate which they make sure to report to the world day in and day out leading up to the caucus. One reason the Iowa Caucus is so very important is simply because the media and the viewing public decided it was. If the candidates don’t meet the expectations set by the media and accepted by the public, then it can have very negative consequences for them. Should a candidate exceed the expectations, it can be a huge bolster in their campaign and feather in their cap as being one step closer to winning the nomination.
• Since 1980, each winner of a party presidential nomination contest except for one first won the Iowa Caucus, the New Hampshire primary, or both.
• In the second ever Iowa Caucus in which Iowa went first, Jimmy Carter was catapulted from obscurity to national fame due to the media coverage he received from winning the 1976 Democratic caucus in Iowa. He spent an entire year in Iowa campaigning ahead of time, and it paid off. His media –driven surge in the polls after his win in Iowa enabled him to also take the New Hampshire primary and the following dozen contests, leading to his win in the White House. Jerry Crawford, who currently works for the Clinton campaign, remembers Carter saying that he would never have become president without winning the Iowa Caucuses.
• Obama’s win in the 2008 Iowa Caucus took him from trailing Hillary Clinton by more than 20 points in national polls just one day before the caucus to rising within 5 points of her after the results posted. Public perspective of Obama changed from a media phenomenon to a legitimate candidate who could attract voters. It was a shot in the arm for him and only the beginning of his success in the rest of the race.
The Iowa caucus will affect each candidate uniquely and not necessarily equally. As we’ve stated above, the greatest impact the Iowa caucus has is how it alters the perceptions of the political world. The candidates are intensely judged by how their performance lines up with the expectations of the media, the political elites and the general public. The results of the Iowa caucus are treated as extremely important by numerous parties involved in the political process, all of who intersect in some way.
The media hypes up all the results, with the amount of their precious coverage afforded to each candidate based on who did well and who did not, and judging and branding the candidates according to their standards of expectations. The Donors and activists then analyze the results to determine if their candidates are still viable and worth continued support. At this time donors withdraw from those who did poorly, which makes it hard for those candidates to stay in the race. And finally voters in other states take their cues from the Iowa results and associated media commentary to conclude who can actually win the race and begin jumping on the bandwagon.
The candidates also take their cues from the results and media coverage. Once the results are out, the candidates who ended up with bad results often take it as a hint to quit the race. Donors who withdraw funding, a judgmental media who will no longer cover them, and polls that show they are performing lower elsewhere as voters follow the Iowa lead in favoring candidates often drive their decision to exit the race. Each component amplifies the other – and has an influence that reaches across the nation.
The Iowa caucus will always remain a make ‘em and break ‘em moment for the candidates in the presidential race, and will serve as the first and most important testing of each candidate and his or her longevity in the race. Its dramatic influence on the entire election process is what ensures the Iowa caucus is also a key event to include in the betting lines and odds at respected sportsbooks offering legal political betting. You will be able to bet on which candidate will win for each party, and sometimes there are some extra prop types bets such as which gender will win. Each sportsbook will have varying betting lines and wagering options. Each of our recommended betting sites offer options and betting odds for who will win the Iowa Caucus.