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Iowa Democratic Caucus Time Capsule: October 2003

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As Hillary Clinton continues to lead by a modest margin in most public polls in Iowa with the caucus three months away, a look back to polls in October 2003 reminds one of how quickly things can change just a few months before the caucuses.

In the three public polls released in October 2003 by Zogby, SurveyUSA, and KCCI-TV / Research 2000, Richard Gephardt led in every poll, with Howard Dean a close second. Gephardt, who only received 11 percent of the vote on Caucus Day (a distant fourth place finish), enjoyed an average measured support of 25 percent in the three polls.

Dean, who finished third in Iowa with a disappointing 18 percent, averaged 23 percent of the vote in October 2003 polling.

John Edwards was a distant fourth in the October 2003 polls, averaging just 9 percent. Edwards went on to a very strong second place in the Iowa Caucuses, winning 32 percent of the vote.

John Kerry, who averaged only 13 percent in October 2003 polling, went on to earn nearly triple that support on Caucus Day, winning 38 percent of the vote in January 2004.

"Inevitability" is the word of the month as Senator Clinton dominates in the national Democratic Party horserace polling and enjoys one successful fundraising quarter after another. The plight of Dean, who was also raising eyebrows with his fundraising skills in 2003, should be a cautionary reminder of how nothing in politics is inevitable.

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Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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