For all the hype that it generates, does the Iowa caucus actually play a major role in shaping the presidential race? Should it?
Political scientists have chewed over those questions since 1972, when the Iowa Democratic Party moved its caucus from April to the then-startlingly-early date of January 24. (Iowa Republicans followed suit four years later.)
At our Campaign U. blog, we spoke with Christopher C. Hull, an adjunct assistant professor of government at Georgetown University and a former legislative aide in Des Moines, about his take. He wades into these debates over the Iowa caucus in a new book, Grassroots Rules: How the Iowa Caucus Helps Elect American Presidents (Stanford University Press).
Mr. Hull concedes that New Hampshire packs a stronger punch than Iowa. But he argues that the New Hampshire vote is partly shaped by the Iowa results — and that Iowa’s mediating role appears to be growing stronger over time, perhaps because the Internet allows candidates to quickly exploit shifts in momentum. (John Kerry, for example, had an online fund-raising windfall during the days between the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary in 2004.)
The full Q&A can be found here.