Election 2020 Politics

Only two recent major party nominees have lost both Iowa and New Hampshire

Iowa and New Hampshire finishes of

non-incumbents who went on to win their

parties’ nominations, 1972–2016

H. Clinton

B. Clinton

Sources: Archive.org, University of New Hampshire,

AP, Des Moines Register

If history is any guide, either Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg will be the Democratic Party’s choice to face President Trump. Since 1972, no candidate from either party has placed below second in both Iowa and New Hampshire and won the nomination.

While relatively few delegates have been allocated, three other candidates who have earned them so far — former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — will need to overcome historical precedent to win. So will Mike Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who declined to compete in Iowa and New Hampshire and is instead betting his campaign on an untested delegate strategy beginning in March.

Biden’s fourth-place finish in Iowa is no worse than John McCain’s in 2008. Yet McCain went on to win New Hampshire before taking the Republican nomination, while Biden fell to fifth place there.

Nor can Biden find much encouragement in Bill Clinton’s successful run in 1992. Though Clinton lost in Iowa and New Hampshire, his results were better than expected, enough to boost his profile and make him a contender in later contests.

Clinton’s “comeback kid” narrative seems to fit Klobuchar better than it fits the former vice president, who has underperformed expectations.


Then-Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton hugs his wife, Hillary, at Clinton’s election night party in Merrimack, N.H., in 1992. He finished second in that primary. During his speech, Clinton termed himself “the comeback kid.” (Ron Frehm/AP)

After dominating the field in Georgia, South Carolina and other early Southern states, Clinton went on to win 37 total states, the nomination and the presidency.

Biden is hoping his polling lead among black voters will deliver a similar boost in the South, where they make up a larger portion of the electorate than in heavily white Iowa and New Hampshire. Biden flew to South Carolina before the votes in New Hampshire had been counted.

“Up until now, we haven’t heard from the most committed constituency of the Democratic Party: the African American community,” he said in remarks to supporters Tuesday night.

Biden’s favorability among black voters led the field in early January, according to a Washington Post-Ipsos KnowledgePanel poll. Yet Sanders, a leading contender for the nomination, was not far behind.

Black Democrats give most-positive

ratings to Biden, Sanders and

Warren

How favorable is your opinion

of each of the following Democratic

presidential candidates?

No opinion/

Never heard of

Unfavorable

Source: Jan. 2-8, 2020, Washington Post-Ipsos

KnowledgePanel survey of 876 black Democrats

and Democratic-leaning independents

with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Black Democrats give most-positive ratings

to Biden, Sanders and Warren

How favorable is your opinion of each of the

following Democratic presidential candidates?

No opinion/

Never heard of

Unfavorable

Source: Jan. 2-8, 2020, Washington Post-Ipsos KnowledgePanel survey

of 876 black Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents

with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Black Democrats give most-positive ratings to Biden,

Sanders and Warren. Many are unfamiliar with others.

How favorable is your opinion of each of the following Democratic

presidential candidates?

No opinion/

Never heard of

Unfavorable

Source: Jan. 2-8, 2020, Washington Post-Ipsos KnowledgePanel survey of 876 black Democrats

and Democratic-leaning independents with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Warren, like Biden, fared worse in New Hampshire than Iowa. Unlike Sanders, her New England ties failed to help her with Granite State voters.

Only Sanders and Klobuchar can point to improvements in their positions from Iowa to New Hampshire. Still, if precedent holds, Klobuchar’s move from fifth to third hardly spells victory.

Meanwhile, Andrew Yang, after placing fifth in Iowa and seventh in New Hampshire, dropped out of the race Tuesday night. Should Biden, Warren and Klobuchar fail to gain traction in the next few weeks, they will probably follow Yang to the exits.

Early state results

and candidate

dropouts since 1992

Only primaries without an incumbent

are shown.

The candidate

exits the race

H. Clinton

O’Malley

Richardson

Mini

Tuesday

Mich. and

Wash.

B. Clinton

NOTE: In 2004, after the N.H. primary,

several states held primaries on Feb. 3.

Edwards, Dean and Clark ended their

campaigns within a month after the

Mini-Tuesday.

Early state results and candidate

dropouts since 1992

Only primaries without an incumbent are shown.

The candidate

exits the race

H. Clinton

O’Malley

Richardson

Mini

Tuesday

Mich. and

Wash.

B. Clinton

NOTE: In 2004, after the N.H. primary, several states

held primaries on Feb. 3. Edwards, Dean and Clark

ended their campaigns within a month after the

Mini-Tuesday.

Early state results and candidate dropouts since 1992

Only primaries without an incumbent are shown.

H. Clinton

O’Malley

The candidate

exits the race

Mini

Tuesday

Mich. and

Wash.

Richardson

B. Clinton

NOTE: In 2004, after the N.H. primary, several states held primaries on Feb. 3. Edwards,

Dean and Clark ended their campaigns within a month after the Mini-Tuesday.

Early state results and candidate dropouts since 1992

Only primaries without an incumbent are shown.

H. Clinton

O’Malley

The candidate

exits the race

Mini

Tuesday

Mich. and

Wash.

Richardson

B. Clinton

NOTE: In 2004, after the N.H. primary, several states held primaries on Feb. 3. Edwards, Dean and Clark

ended their campaigns within a month after the Mini-Tuesday.

Early state results and candidate dropouts since 1992

Only primaries without an incumbent are shown.

H. Clinton

O’Malley

Richardson

The candidate

exits the race

Mini

Tuesday

Mich. and

Wash.

B. Clinton

NOTE: In 2004, after the N.H. primary, several states held primaries on Feb. 3. Edwards, Dean and Clark ended their campaigns within a month

after the Mini-Tuesday.

Republicans

Dole, Forbes and Alexander

did not compete in La.

Source: State election data

and Smart Politics

Republicans

Dole, Forbes and Alexander

did not compete in Lousiana.

Source: State election data and Smart Politics

Republicans

Dole, Forbes and

Alexander did not

compete in Lousiana.

Source: State election data and Smart Politics

Republicans

McCain became the nominee after

coming in fourth in Iowa.

Dole, Forbes and

Alexander did not

compete in Lousiana.

Source: State election data and Smart Politics

Republicans

McCain became the

nominee after coming

in fourth in Iowa.

Dole, Forbes and

Alexander did not

compete in Lousiana.

Source: State election data and Smart Politics

Since 1992, candidates who fared poorly in the two early states usually stayed in the race until additional poor showings confirmed defeat. If Sanders or Buttigieg continue apace in Nevada and South Carolina, the field will probably begin to narrow.

That is unless Bloomberg’s campaign strategy, based on defying the conventional path to the nomination, proves successful. Bloomberg entered the race late and declined to participate in Iowa and New Hampshire, or even in Nevada and South Carolina, the next two states to vote.

In Bloomberg’s calculus, winning the nomination is about winning delegates, and neither Iowa nor New Hampshire provide many delegates to the convention.

Delegate count

after Iowa and New Hampshire

Delegate count

after Iowa and New Hampshire

Delegate count after Iowa and New Hampshire

Instead of focusing on early states, Bloomberg has been spending his time and significant financial resources on later states, betting that he can make an impressive showing on March 3, Super Tuesday, when 14 states, including delegate-rich California, will hold primaries.

4,000 delegates

Super Tuesday

1,357 delegates

4,000 delegates

Super Tuesday

1,357 delegates

Iowa Caucuses

41 delegates

4,000 delegates

Super Tuesday

1,357 delegates

Iowa Caucuses

41 delegates

Notes on the data: The Republican Party did not caucus in Iowa in 1972. In 1976, New Hampshire was the fourth state to vote, coming after not just Iowa but also Mississippi and Oklahoma, which also held caucuses. Votes for “uncommitted” in the Iowa Democratic caucuses of 1972, 1976, 1992 and 1996 were not counted.

Dan Keating and Ted Mellnik contributed to this report.

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