The Big Story Blog

Iowa: Iowans don't always pick winners

Posted at 11:45 AM on January 3, 2012 by Michael Olson
Filed under: History, Iowa, Politics

Being the first state to select a presidential nominee places a great deal of attention on the Iowa caucuses, but Iowans have a checkered past in picking the ultimate nominee. NPR's Ken Rudin reviews the previous outcomes.

History. Here's a look at the results of contested GOP caucuses since 1980 (note: Iowa Republicans did hold a first-in-the-nation caucus in 1976, when President Gerald Ford was challenged by Ronald Reagan, but no official straw vote was taken.)


Iowa winner -- George H.W. Bush (32 percent)

Rest of field -- Ronald Reagan (30 percent), Howard Baker (15 percent), John Connally (9 percent), Phil Crane (7 percent), John Anderson (4 percent), Bob Dole (2 percent)

1979 straw poll winner -- Bush

Nominee -- Reagan


Iowa winner -- Bob Dole (37 percent)

Rest of field -- Pat Robertson (25 percent), George H.W. Bush (19 percent), Jack Kemp (11 percent), Pete du Pont (7 percent)

1987 straw poll winner -- Robertson

Nominee -- Bush


Iowa winner -- Bob Dole (26 percent)

Rest of field -- Pat Buchanan (23 percent), Lamar Alexander (18 percent), Steve Forbes (10 percent), Phil Gramm (9 percent), Alan Keyes (7 percent), Dick Lugar (4 percent), Morry Taylor (1 percent)

1995 straw poll winner -- Dole and Gramm (tied)

Nominee -- Dole


Iowa winner -- George W. Bush (41 percent)

Rest of field -- Steve Forbes (30 percent), Alan Keyes (14 percent), Gary Bauer (9 percent), John McCain (5 percent)*, Orrin Hatch (1 percent)

1999 straw poll winner -- Bush

Nominee -- Bush


Iowa winner -- Mike Huckabee (34 percent)

Rest of field -- Mitt Romney (25 percent), Fred Thompson (13 percent), John McCain (13 percent)*, Ron Paul (10 percent), Rudy Giuliani (4 percent)*, Duncan Hunter (1 percent)

2007 straw poll winner -- Romney

Nominee -- McCain

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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