Iowa and New Hampshire represent two very important states for the GOP presidential primary race. History shows that both states have been known to vote either Democrat or Republican in the main event, but nonetheless, it is their influence in the Republican primaries that is of interest. Let’s look at how the two states pull their respective grand old weight:
The “First” State – Iowa is the first GOP caucus state while New Hampshire is the first primary state. The Republicans first caucused in Iowa in 1976 and the Iowa caucus results quickly became an indicator for the presidential race. New Hampshire maintains its status as the first primary state by way of a state law that states the primary date can be moved up as required to maintain the “first” status. In fact, New Hampshire primary results can make or break any candidate, regardless of popularity or coffers, and the primary has been held as early as the second Tuesday in January back in 2008.
Degrees and Horizons – While both states are admittedly conservative, Iowa is considerably more right-winged while the majority of New Hampshire Republicans would consider themselves more middle of the line. Candidates wanting to appeal to evangelical Christians do well in Iowa and might have a hard time appealing to minorities, gays and even independents, all of whom reportedly represent key votes in the next election. While national Census data does not show New Hampshire to be a particularly ethnically diverse state, the more liberal New Hampshire Republican votes are more representative of other key, more populous red states.
Bragging Rights – Interestingly, Iowa and New Hampshire have not nominated the same eventual GOP presidential candidate since 1976. In fact, New Hampshire has selected the nominee five times while Iowa has only nominated the winner three times. Moreover, the Iowa caucus is merely a “gathering” and does not have a direct effect on the presidential nomination, but instead is a non-binding indicator of how the state convention delegates will vote. As New Hampshire governor John H. Sununu was quoted as saying in 1988 when he was in office, “The people of Iowa pick corn, the people of New Hampshire pick presidents.”
Regardless of whether the Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary results are the same, the hullabaloo and media circus of both events can’t be ignored. Many 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls have already started courting Iowa voters and it won’t be long before New Hampshire is the first stop on the travel itinerary.