Bellwether Counties in the Iowa Republican Caucuses

Since 1988, 27 of Iowa’s 99 counties have backed every winner of the Republican statewide caucus vote

iowagoplogo20On Sunday, Smart Politics profiled the 12 counties in Iowa that have backed every winning Democrat in the Iowa caucuses since 1980.

In this post, the lens is turned on the Republican field – highlighting those counties that have uniformly supported the GOP candidate who won the most votes statewide during the last five caucuses: Bob Dole (1988 and 1996), George W. Bush (2000), Mike Huckabee (2008), and Rick Santorum (2012).

Since the 1988 cycle, 27 of Iowa’s 99 counties have voted for the winner of the most statewide votes all five times: Adair, Appanoose, Audubon, Benton, Buchanan, Butler, Cass, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, Emmet, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Henry, Jasper, Kossuth, Madison, Mills, Ringgold, Sac, Warren, Wayne, and Wright.

Just two of these 27 counties were also bellwether counties on the Democratic side during this span: Buchanan and Grundy.

These counties largely come from the most rural parts of the Hawkeye State with none of the 27 ranked in the Top 10 most populous Iowa counties and just three landing in the Top 25: Warren (#12), Jasper (#18), and Benton (#24).

Seven counties crack the Top 50: Buchanan (#29), Fayette (#34), Henry (#35), Crawford (#44), Clay (#46), Floyd (#48), and Madison (#49).

Seven others are in the Bottom 25: Sac (#75), Emmet (#76), Greene (#81), Adair (#90), Wayne (#94), Audubon (#97), and Ringgold (#98).

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And now for the outliers…

Four Iowa counties have only supported one statewide caucus winner since 1988: Allamakee, Clinton, Dubuque, and Plymouth:

  • Allamakee County voted for Robertson in 1988, Buchanan in 1996, Romney in 2008, and Paul in 2012
  • Clinton County voted for Robertson in 1988, Alexander in 1996, and Romney in 2008 and 2012
  • Dubuque County voted for Robertson in 1988, Buchanan in 1996, and Romney in 2008 and 2012
  • Plymouth County voted for Buchanan in 1996, Forbes in 2000, and Romney in 2008 and 2012

While four other counties supported the statewide vote leader just twice in these five cycles:

  • Ida County voted for Buchanan in 1996, Forbes in 2000, and Romney in 2008
  • Jefferson County voted for Robertson in 1988 and Paul in 2008 and 2012
  • Union County voted for Robertson in 1988, Forbes in 2000, and Perry in 2012
  • Woodbury County voted for Buchanan in 1996, Forbes in 2000, and Romney in 2008

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1 Comment on "Bellwether Counties in the Iowa Republican Caucuses"

  1. Interesting analysis, but see my post on the real meaning — or lack thereof — of “bellwether” counties, at http://bit.ly/20f7paS.

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