Iowa Caucus Vs. New Hampshire Primary: Which is the Better Predictor?

The Iowa Caucus has come and gone - Barack Obama won the Democratic Caucus, whereas Mike Huckabee won the Republican side.

But exactly how useful are the results from Iowa? Let's take a quick and dirty look at the numbers from 1976 to 2004:

IOWA CAUCUS

Democratic Winners
























































Won the Caucus
Won the Party Nomination
Won the Election
1976 "Uncommitted" Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter
1980 Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan
1984 Walter Mondale Walter Mondale Ronald Reagan
1988 Dick Gephart Michael Dukakis George H.W. Bush
1992 Tom Harkin Bill Clinton Bill Clinton
1996 Bill Clinton (unopposed) Bill Clinton Bill Clinton
2000 Al Gore Al Gore George W. Bush
2004 John Kerry John Kerry George W. Bush

Percentage of Democratic candidates that win the Iowa Caucus and subsequently the party's nomination: 62.5% ( 5 out of 8 )

Percentage of Democratic candidates that win the Iowa Caucus and subsequently win the Election: 12.5% ( 1 out of 8 )

Republication Winners






















































Won the Caucus
Won the Party Nomination
Won the Election
1976 Gerald Ford Gerald Ford Jimmy Carter
1980 George H.W. Bush Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan
1984 Ronald Reagan (unopposed) Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan
1988 Bob Dole George H.W. Bush George H.W. Bush
1992 George H.W. Bush (unopposed) George H.W. Bush Bill Clinton
1996 Bob Dole Bob Dole Bill Clinton
2000 George W. Bush George W. Bush George W. Bush
2004 George W. Bush (unopposed) George W. Bush George W. Bush

Percentage of Republican candidates that win the Iowa Caucus and subsequently the party's nomination: 75% ( 6 out of 8 )

Percentage of Republican candidates that win the Iowa Caucus and subsequently win the Election: 37.5% ( 3 out of 8 )

NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY

Democratic Winners
























































Won the Primary
Won the Party Nomination
Won the Election
1976 Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter
1980 Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan
1984 Gary Hart Walter Mondale Ronald Reagan
1988 Michael Dukakis Michael Dukakis George H.W. Bush
1992 Paul Tsongas Bill Clinton Bill Clinton
1996 Bill Clinton (unopposed) Bill Clinton Bill Clinton
2000 Al Gore Al Gore George W. Bush
2004 John Kerry John Kerry George W. Bush

Percentage of Democratic candidates that win the New Hampshire Primary and subsequently the party's nomination: 75% ( 6 out of 8 )

Percentage of Democratic candidates that win the New Hampshire Primary and subsequently win the Election: 25% ( 2 out of 8 )

Republican Winners
























































Won the Primary
Won the Party Nomination
Won the Election
1976 Gerald Ford Gerald Ford Jimmy Carter
1980 Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan
1984 Ronald Reagan (unopposed) Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan
1988 George H.W. Bush George H.W. Bush George H.W. Bush
1992 George H.W. Bush George H.W. Bush Bill Clinton
1996 Pat Buchanan Bob Dole Bill Clinton
2000 John McCain George W. Bush George W. Bush
2004 George W. Bush (unopposed) George W. Bush George W. Bush

Percentage of Republican candidates that win the New Hampshire Primary and subsequently the party's nomination: 75% ( 6 out of 8 )

Percentage of Republican candidates that win the New Hampshire Primary and subsequently win the Election: 50% ( 4 out of 8 )

COMPARING THE TWO









































From 1976 to 2000

Won the Primary & Party Nomination
Won the Primary & the Election
Iowa
Democrats
62.5%
12.5%
Republicans
75%
37.5%
 
New Hampshire
Democrats
75%
25%
Republicans
75%
50%

Conclusion

It seems that the Iowa Caucus is more effective in determining who the party nomination will be for Republicans than Democrats ( 75% vs. 62.5% ). The New Hampshire Primary does a slightly better job in determining the nomination from both parties.

In case of winning the election, New Hampshire is better at predicting the Election winners for both Democrats and Republican than the Iowa Caucus. This is especially true for the Republicans (as they've won 5 out of the last 8 elections). Another way to say it is, if a Republican won the Presidential Election, then it's more likely that candidate won the New Hampshire Primary than the Iowa Caucus.

Source: Iowa Caucus [wiki] | New Hampshire Primary [wiki]


Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

According also to http://www.wmbriggs.com/, a candidate needs to win EITHER the Iowa caucuses OR the New Hampshire primary to have a shot at the nomination.
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Yes, it's a small data set (only 8 data points), but to paraphrase Rumsfeld, we work with the data we have, not with the data we wished we had.

Originally, I tossed out the years where a candidate ran unopposed, but the result is almost the same (New Hampshire was the better predictor), so I kept all of the data points in.

The usual caveats about this little quick and dirty exercise in statistics apply: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. (Mark Twain/Benjamin Disraeli)
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Dogrun,

Bush won, but not fairly. Are these voting abuses new to the election process, or unique to one party? Doubtful. But with low voter turnout (civic apathy), it does matter. Ultimately, we as citizens are to blame. We need fundamental changes throughout the election process, such as making election day a national holiday (or half work day), so more people can get to the polls. Or using "instant runoff voting" so candidates can win with a real and viable majority. And so on...
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I can't believe people are still whining about losing elections 4 and 8 years ago. Bush won fairly both times, no matter what you want to believe.

Do you really think that only half of the politicians would try to do anything they could to win elections. I'd be willing to bet there are quite a few from both sides. I doubt we'll ever hear about most of the unscrupulous activities.
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Hi, Sid.

You make valid arguments. However, you miss one crucial point. There is a concerted effort by Republicans to purge thousands (even tens of thousands) of legitimate, lawful voters from the rosters, or to deny such citizens the opportunity to vote outright. Such strategic efforts, unsurprisingly, are targeted to districts where voters are disenfranchised (i.e., poor, and therefore without realistic legal recourse) and where they would likely vote for the Democratic candidate. Specifically, I'm referring to African American, Latino and Native American communities.

This says nothing of the electronic voting machines that do not have an accompanying paper trail for purposes of recounts. The proprietary software of voting machines is not allowed to be investigated, and programmers have testified that, in some cases, it was rigged to deliver a tally result (by a narrow margin) for whatever candidate they chose. Doesn't that warm the cockles of your heart?

There are other voting abuses, like willfully neglecting to count absentee ballots (again, in specific districts), but I won't bother to go into details, as this is merely a 'comment' on an otherwise happy-go-lucky blog. One can do his own research, if he happens to care about the legitimacy of our democracy.

In an election that is decided by hundreds of votes, or even one single vote, you can see how voting irregularities add up and have an effect. Third party candidates, like Ralph Nader or Ross Perot, don't cause the "major" candidates to lose an election. In fact, our democracy would benefit from more third party candidates. That's another story, for another time.

You can wave your hands all day, spouting appellations of "kook, whiner, cry baby, sore loser," but it doesn't change the reality. People are standing up for a healthy democracy, not merely the appearance of one that goes through the motions.

Regardless of either party's machinations, though, a greater voter turnout -- and greater civic participation, in general -- will begin to reclaim the democratic ideal of a government of, by and for the people.
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