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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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No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


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Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


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