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        The History of the Iowa Caucuses

        In 1972, the Iowa Caucuses became the first major electoral event for the nomination process for President of the United States. Since that time, the event has drawn increasing media attention and has become a test of candidates’ ability to attract and organize their campaign, and ultimately win the support of their political party for the nomination. This segment from Iowa Public Television’s Caucus Iowa: Journey to the Presidency documentary includes archival footage and contemporary interviews with politicians, campaign staff and journalists of the era.

        Iowa Caucus History: Introduction


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        Iowa Caucus History: 1968

        Following the protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, a group of Iowa Democratic party operatives moved to restructure the process of selecting local delegates for the national convention.

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        Iowa Caucus History: 1972

        George McGovern uses a strong showing in the Iowa Caucuses to provide momentum for his candidacy.

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        Iowa Caucus History: 1976

        Jimmy Carter uses momentum from the Iowa Caucuses to win the presidency.

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        Iowa Caucus History: 1980

        George Bush came to Iowa early and often to build awareness and relationships prior to the 1980 caucuses.

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        Iowa Caucus History: 1984

        Walter Mondale’s win in the 1984 Iowa Caucuses is partially overcome by a surprising second place finish from Gary Hart.

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        Iowa Caucus History: 1988

        The emergence of the Christian Conservative movement and Iowans’ desire for change resulted in Vice President George Bush losing the 1988 Iowa Caucuses to Kansas Senator Robert Dole and televangelist-turned-politician Pat Robertson.

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        Iowa Caucus History: 1996

        Senator Bob Dole wins the Iowa Caucuses in a close race, surviving the conservative surge of Pat Buchanan and the financial resources of Steve Forbes.

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        Iowa Caucus History: 2004

        With a major reinvestment in his Iowa campaign, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was able to win the 2004 Iowa Caucuses. Howard Dean loses his early momentum to come in third.

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        Iowa Caucus History: 2008

        An epic Democratic campaign includes an historic victory for Barack Obama and stinging defeat for the early favorite Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, as Obama gains the support of surge of first-time and independents voters.

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