The Clintons are Pretty Much Completely Wrong About Iowa

The Clinton campaign is playing up the idea that the results of Iowa have historically been an aberration.

“Well, you know Iowa does not have the best track record in determining who the party’s nominee is,” Hillary said earlier today. “Everybody knows that.”

Except she’s wrong.

There have been seven meaningful Iowa caucuses in which the winner – or perceived winner — has gone on to win the nomination.

Here is the history:

2004: John Kerry wins Iowa (both in terms of votes and media perception) and wins the nomination.

2000: Al Gore wins Iowa (again, votes and media perception) and the nomination.

1996: No caucuses

1992: Caucuses were irrelevant — ignored by the media and candidates and as consequential to the nomination fight as North Dakota.

1988: Michael Dukakis comes in third place, but — and this is a key difference from Hillary last night — his bronze medal is considered a moral victory by the media, since he’s competing so far from home (and against two neighboring state Senators). Finishing third gives Dukakis momentum and he wins the nomination.

1984: Walter Mondale wins Iowa and the nomination.

1980: Jimmy Carter wins Iowa and the nomination.

1976: Jimmy Carter wins Iowa and the nomination. (Technically, “uncommitted” came in first, but Carter was declared the clear winner by the media.)

1972: George McGovern comes in a surprisingly strong second to Ed Muskie and is declared the “winner” by the media. This propels McGovern to contender status and, eventually, to the nomination.

Which brings us to…

2008: Hillary Clinton, in contrast to all of the above-mentioned nominees, does not win Iowa and is not declared by the media to have posted a “surprisingly strong” showing. If she wins the nomination, she will be the only Democratic nominee in modern history to do so after suffering such a setback.