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When Presidential Candidates Skip Iowa: Modeling Participation in the First-in-the-Nation Caucuses, 1976-2008

Christopher C. Hull. "When Presidential Candidates Skip Iowa: Modeling Participation in the First-in-the-Nation Caucuses, 1976-2008." The American Review of Politics 28.Wint. (2008): 361-400.

Why did Rudy Giuliani and John McCain skip the Iowa Caucuses in 2008? Which presidential candidates have opted out of the first-in-the-nation nomination contest – and when can they do so with impunity? To find out, this study proposes a risk/reward model based on that Bartels’ conception of momentum and Gurian’s understanding of candidate strategy. It delves into data from a newly updated 1976-2008 database on White House hopefuls’ Hawkeye State participation to explain candidate days spent in Iowa in a particular election cycle. The results suggest candidates are more likely to skip Iowa if they believe they can survive due to high national poll ratings; if they are lower-tier Democrats facing the Caucuses’ 15% viability threshold; if they are incumbent presidents, and especially if they are “crowded out” ideologically, that is, if they are too closely surrounded by similarly positioned candidates or too distant from voters.

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