Examining the Iowa Bump

With Hillary Clinton’s deputy campaign manager proposing skipping Iowa as are Giuliani staffers, I thought it might be time to examine the effects of an Iowa bump.

In 2004, John Kerry won the Iowa caucus (on Jan. 19) with 38% of the vote and John Edwards came in second with 32%. The day of the Iowa caucus, Kerry was polling at 20% in New Hampshire and Edwards was polling at 8%. Just five days later, Kerry skyrocketed to 38% in NH and Edwards to 15%. Meanwhile, Howard Dean, who had been leading polling in the state, slipped after a poor third-place showing in Iowa. So, Kerry and Edwards nearly doubled their support after good showings in Iowa.

Let’s look at the Republicans in 2000. Right before the Iowa caucus, John McCain was leading Bush 45% to 33% in New Hampshire. Immediately after the caucus, which Bush won, Bush was ahead of McCain by 37%-36%. However, Bush’s bump evaporated, and McCain was leading Bush by 10 points two days before the primary. McCain went on to eventually win in NH by 20 points.

However, there are a few reasons why momentum may be dampened this year. This election has seen the earliest campaigning ever, providing voters with ample time to make up their mind about candidates. Also, many voters in later states will have already voted before the Iowa caucuses, due to new early-voting systems.

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