Clicking on the Web: Presidential primaries, caucuses

by Howard Lestrud

“Well, you haven’t seen nothin’ yet,” exclaimed President Ronald Reagan after he was elected to a second term in 1984.

Some aspiring Republican presidential candidates are hoping they will be repeating that victory statement many times during the year 2012.

The Iowa caucuses Jan. 3 kicked off the U.S. presidential process for both the Democratic and Republican parties.

There was no contest on the DFL side with President Barack Obama guaranteed a spot on the ballot in November of 2012.

On the Republican side, there will be many key caucuses and primaries to select the nominee to face President Obama.

Read more on the history of the Iowa caucuses by going to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iowa_caucuses

The Iowa caucuses came to national attention in 1972 with a series of articles in The New York Times on how non-primary states choose their delegates for the national conventions.

Democratic operative, Norma S. Matthews, state co-chairman of the George McGovern campaign, helped engineer the early January start for Iowa.

McGovern finished second to Edmund Muskie in the first early Iowa caucuses, but the momentum was sufficient for an ultimate Democratic nomination in 1972 for McGovern in Miami.

Four years later, the Iowa Republican Party scheduled its party caucuses on the same date as the Democrats.

In 1980, Republicans began the tradition of holding a straw poll at their caucuses, giving the appearance of a primary election.

George H.W. Bush campaigned extensively in Iowa, defeating Ronald Reagan, but ultimately failed to win the nomination.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Stillwater won the Iowa straw poll in Ames late last summer.

The so-called big prize is on the line on Tuesday, Jan. 10 with the New Hampshire primary.

The picture becomes somewhat clearer as the primaries continue in South Carolina on Saturday, Jan. 21 and in Florida on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

In Minnesota, precinct caucuses are scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Find out more about Minnesota’s elections in 2012 and also check the dates for other caucuses and primaries around the nation.

Go to http://elections.mytimetovote.com/dates/minnesota.html

Find the official 2012 Presidential Primary/Caucus Calendar from the National Association of Secretaries of State website at http://www.nass.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=284&Itemid=439

Many believe that the early caucuses and primaries select the eventual winner of the presidency.

In 2008, then Sen. Obama won the Iowa caucus. That same year Mike Huckabee was the winner in Iowa.

In New Hampshire, Sen. Hillary Clinton defeated Obama by three percentage points on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain topped Mitt Romney, 37.1 percent to 31.6 percent.

The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years, as part of the process of choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November.

Read more about the history of the New Hampshire primary election by going to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_primary

Let’s read, “Although only a few delegates are chosen in the New Hampshire primary, its real importance comes from the massive media coverage it receives (along with Iowa); in recent years the two states received about as much media attention as all other state primaries combined.

“An example of this massive media coverage has been seen on the campus of Saint Anselm College, as the campus has held multiple national debates and have attracted media outlets like Fox News, CNN, NBC and ABC.

“The publicity and momentum can be enormous from a decisive win by a frontrunner, or better-than-expected result in the New Hampshire primary.

“The upset or weak showing by a front-runner changes the calculus of national politics in a matter of hours, as happened in 1952 (D), 1968 (D), 1980 (R), and 2008 (D).

“Since 1952, the primary has been a major testing ground for candidates for both the Republican and Democratic nominations.

“Candidates who do poorly frequently drop out, while lesser-known, underfunded candidates who do well in New Hampshire suddenly become serious contenders, garnering large amounts of media attention and campaign funding.”

Read more on the New Hampshire Primary history on the Wikipedia website: “New Hampshire has held a presidential primary since 1916, but it did not begin to assume its current importance until 1952 after NH simplified its ballot access laws in 1949 seeking to boost voter turnout, when Dwight Eisenhower demonstrated his broad voter appeal by defeating Robert A. Taft, ‘Mr. Republican,’ who had been favored for the nomination, and Estes Kefauver defeated incumbent President Harry S. Truman, leading Truman to abandon his campaign for a second term of his own.

“The other President to be forced from running for re-election by New Hampshire voters was Lyndon Johnson, who, as a write-in candidate, managed only a 49-42 percent victory over Eugene McCarthy in 1968 (and won fewer delegates than McCarthy), and consequently withdrew from the race.

“The winner in New Hampshire has not always gone on to win their party’s nomination, as demonstrated by Republicans Harold Stassen in 1948, Henry Cabot Lodge in 1964, Pat Buchanan in 1996, and John McCain in 2000 and Democrats Estes Kefauver in 1952 and 1956, Paul Tsongas in 1992 and Hillary Clinton in 2008.

“Before 1992, the person elected president had always carried the primary, but Bill Clinton broke the pattern in 1992, as did George W. Bush in 2000, and Barack Obama in 2008.

“In 1992, Clinton lost to Paul Tsongas in New Hampshire; in 2000, George W. Bush lost to John McCain in New Hampshire; and in 2008 Barack Obama lost to Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary.”

Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online managing editor.

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