Which Early State Matters Most? Mitt Romney holds clear leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire, leaving his main GOP rivals to eye other states. But many Democrats look at Iowa as do-or-die territory. Yet the history of those two early-to-vote states offers no easy answer as to who ultimately wins the nomination.
NPR logo Which Early State Matters Most?

Which Early State Matters Most?

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama greets audience members after a Nov. 7, 2007, town hall meeting in Fairfield, Iowa. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama greets audience members after a Nov. 7, 2007, town hall meeting in Fairfield, Iowa.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Henry Cabot Lodge, the U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, won the New Hampshire GOP primary in 1964 without campaigning for it. But Barry Goldwater won the nomination. hide caption

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Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt won the Iowa Dem caucuses in '88 over eventual nominee Michael Dukakis, who finished third. hide caption

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Thirty-four years ago today, the Nixon White House revealed the existence of an 18-minute gap in a key Watergate tape recording. hide caption

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Primary history chart