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Iowa Caucus 2012 in Review

How much did the state of Iowa make on the 2012 Iowa Caucus?

It appears that the state of Iowa generated approximately $17,594,397 from the Iowa Caucus. The funds were spent by campaigns during the Iowa Caucus for TV spots, radio promos, newspaper ads, and campaign headquarters' costs for hotels, food, car rental and other transportation costs, such as buses and flights. The analysis was developed by looking only at the money spent in the state of Iowa for the 2012 Iowa Caucus. To come up with our estimates, we took the seven remaining candidates who were competing for the Republican nomination and took their TV ads, combined with 1/30 of their over all budget, to get a total number spent in the Iowa Caucus.

Republican Candidate Spending for the Iowa Caucus:
Candidate Ads
(TV Only)
Supper PACs Ads In Iowa Spent In Iowa On Campaign Net Operation Expenditures 12-31-11
Santorum $21,980 $89,325 $57,180* $1,906,019
Romney $1,471,104 $2,735,258 $1,109,178* $36,972,626
Paul $2,717,416 $0 $783,141* $26,104,721
Gingrich $1,008,390 $278,223 $318,732* $10,624,423
Perry $4,532,396 $1,503,309 $490,437* $16,347,912
Bachmann $24,135 $0 $454,191* $15,139,722
Huntsman $0 $0 $0 $5,807,460
TOTAL: $9,775,421 $4,606,115 $3,212,859 $112,902,883
Democratic Candidate Spending for the Iowa Caucus:
Candidate Ads
(TV Only)
Supper PACs Ads In Iowa Spent In Iowa On Campaign Net Operation Expenditures 12-31-11
Obama $0 $0 $0 $66,569,736

*= Estimated money spent in Iowa based on 1/30th of their total budget at the end of 2012.

What was unprecedented in the 2012 Iowa Caucus compared to previous Iowa Caucuses?

The one major difference in the Iowa Caucus for 2012 was the spending by PACs for individual candidates. Our total number for the above-candidates without the PACs would be around $12,988,282 total, which would be less money spent in Iowa than in 2008 for just the Republican candidates alone. However, when we add in the PACs spending for Iowa, we have to add another $4,606,155, which makes the total spent in Iowa around $17,594,397. Therefore, there was more money spent in the 2012 Iowa Caucus election cycle, with just the Republican candidates, than in the past. The candidates who benefited the most from PACs were Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich. During the 2008 Iowa Caucus, the Republican candidates spent around $16,471,374 total for TV ads and support services. In 2012, the PACs increased the spending in Iowa by roughly $1,123,023. This makes 2012 one of the more profitable years for money spent in Iowa.

The majority of the money spent in Iowa went for Advertisements on TV and the radio. In the previous Iowa Caucuses, there were obviously no PACs, so the campaigns were relatively modest in their spending in Iowa for TV ads. If the PACs stay on course for 2016, the next Iowa Caucus will clearly be approaching the $25 million mark for just one party to spend on TV ads and other campaign activities in the state of Iowa. Part of the reason that Iowa is the beneficiary to this growing amount of funds allocated for campaigning is because the state of Iowa has always been, and continues to be, a clearinghouse for many of the candidates to be vetted and then dismissed. Along with this process, the PACs are trying out different TV ads on the Iowa masses to see what works and what doesn't cut the mustard. Because PAC money comes from proxy participants, it can be allocated for vicious attack ads upon other candidates, thus allowing a thin veil of anonymity for a candidate to sit behind while keeping their hands 'clean' of any direct attack on their opponents.

How much time did the candidates spend in Iowa?

If you do not have a lot of money to spend on TV ads or other conventional advertisement programs in Iowa, you might wonder what other ways exist for you to gain support? Well, consider this - for candidates like Rick Santorum and, to a lesser extent, Michele Bachmann, the amount of time spent in Iowa was more important than the money raised for TV ads. Rick Santorum demonstrated that without deep pockets, spending more time in Iowa actually conversing and getting to know your potential constituents can pay off tremendously. In the early days of 2011, Santorum was a little known candidate when he started campaigning in Iowa - and his time spent in the state was not even dedicated to the Iowa Straw poll. He was spending his time nurturing a group of loyal Iowa Caucus goers, guaranteeing their participation on the night of the Iowa Caucuses - January 3rd. Santorum illustrated that even a campaign that had very little money could still make an impact on the national media and convert their time spent in Iowa into a top 3 contender spot. In addition, the fact that Santorum remained under the radar until the last 45 days leading up to the Iowa Caucus helped give him a boost of stamina. He did not peak in Iowa during the summer, as did Michele Bachmann, which allowed him to avoid large amounts of searching into his past political career. Such feverish scrutiny fatally wounded Michele Bachmann's chances at the Presidency and have tenaciously dogged Newt Gingrich to this day.

Republican Candidates - Time Spent in Iowa in 2011
Candidate 1st Qtr 2011 2nd Qtr 2011 3rd Qtr 2011 4th Qtr 2011 TOTAL DAYS:
Santorum 4 Days 12 Days 23 Days 46 Days 85 Days
Bachmann 5 Days 4 Days 26 Days 40 Days 75 Days
Gingrich 5 Days 7 Days 16 Days 21 Days 49 Days
Paul 3 Days 8 Days 12 Days 16 Days 39 Days
Perry 0 Days 0 Days 7 days 26 Days 23 Days
Romney 0 Days 1 Day 2 Days 11 Days 14 Days
Huntsman 0 Days 0 Days 1 Day 1 Day 2 Days

How many jobs would $17,594,397 generate for the state of Iowa?

The 2012 Iowa Caucuses generated enough revenue that the state of Iowa could have created or saved almost 500 jobs. This number was achieved by taking the $17,594,397 produced from the Iowa Caucuses and dividing that by $35,000, which is the average yearly salary for an individual in the state of Iowa. Granted these figures are estimates, but it helps to illustrate the fact that even a small amount of spending by just one political party holding a caucus in the state of Iowa can create jobs. Thus, Iowa's status of being the first state in the Nation to hold its' Caucus is nothing to sneeze at and is significant and important on many levels. Without Iowa's first in the Nation title, there is little doubt that Iowa would see far less money spent in the state and would have even less of an impact on job growth every 4 years.

How did the candidates promote themselves in Iowa?

The candidates who visit Iowa are afforded many opportunities to reach out and speak to Iowans. One of the overlooked avenues to get the attention of Iowa Caucus goers is by talking to the local news sources. This allows the candidate to communicate their views to a significant amount of individuals in that local community without going door-to-door (See Iowa News). One of the main ways that a candidate can get their message out is via Iowa Public Television and by participating on Iowa Press (See Iowa Press), which has worked for sitting presidents and candidates who have won the Iowa Caucus in the past. The three presidential candidates who participated in the Iowa Press for the year 2012 Caucuses were Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Newt Gingrich. Two of these candidates went on to win other states and have remained active past Super Tuesday.

Which candidates attended the 2011 Iowa Republican Presidential Debates?

The first Iowa Republican Presidential Debate was held in Ames, Iowa on Thursday, August 11th. The following candidates, in alphabetical order, smartly attended the Republican Presidential Debate: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. The event was broadcast by Fox News.

The second Republican Presidential Debate held in Iowa was at the Drake University Campus in Des Moines on Saturday, December 10th. This was the second major televised debate in Iowa. Rick Perry, who did not participate in the first debate, was in attendance for this debate. Two candidates who were present for the first Iowa debate, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain, were not a part of the second debate because they had withdrawn their bids for the Presidency. One other candidate who had been a participant in the first Iowa debate, Jon Huntsman, was denied participation in the second debate because he had been trailing the other candidates in recent polls. The second 2011 Republican Presidential Debate was hosted by the Des Moines Register and ABC news. (See More Info.)

The third Iowa Republican Presidential Debate was held on Thursday, December 15th, at the Convention Center in Sioux City, and was hosted by Fox News. It was the last major Republican debate held in the state of Iowa before the January 3rd, 2012 Iowa Caucuses. The following candidates were in attendance: Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.

What was the outcome of the 2012 Iowa Caucus?

On January 3, 2012, the Iowa Caucus was held at 7:00 pm and, for the first time in Iowa Caucus history, there was a virtual tie between the top two Republican candidates. The extremely close race resulted in Rick Santorum being declared the winner and Mitt Romney the second place contender. Ron Paul rounded out the top three candidates as a third place finisher in the Iowa Caucus. The final results were not known until two weeks after the caucus because of the apparent disorganization of the Republican party to verify their votes. The procedure, or lack of procedure, used by the Iowa Republicans created a state of confusion for weeks because of the need to recount all the votes gathered on caucus night in order to accurately verify the winner. The Iowa Republican party would do well to take their cue from the Iowa Democratic party on how to organize the voting and tallying procedure and coordinate their precincts for a smooth caucus night.

The Iowa Caucus hosted just one of the two major political parties in 2012, with the Republicans being the only party nominating a challenger to incumbent President Barack Obama. With 1,774 precincts and roughly 122,000 Republican caucus voters, the challenger nominated by Iowa was Rick Santorum. The results of the 2012 Iowa Caucus are listed below:

REPUBLICANS Vote Percentage Vote Count
1st Rick Santorum 25% 29,839
2nd Mitt Romney 25% 29,805
3rd Ron Paul 21% 26,036

Newt Gingrich 13% 16,163
Rick Perry 10% 12,557
Michele Bachmann 5% 6,046
Jon Huntsman 1% 739
No Preference 0% 135
Other 0% 117
Herman Cain 0% 58
TOTALS: 100% 122,224

DEMOCRATS (No Caucuses Needed)
Barack Obama - All 45 delegates

How significant a role in the nomination of presidential candidates does the Iowa Caucus play?

The caucuses are primarily for the Democratic and Republican parties. In the last 39 years, starting in the 1970s when Iowa moved its' caucus to be the first caucus held in the Nation, Iowa has become a predictor in identifying the top three candidates from both parties. Only those candidates who finish in the top half of their party typically move on to campaign strong in other states. In fact, in the past, the Iowa Caucuses have become more of a clearing field in determining which candidates will stay in the race and which candidates will throw in the towel. This would appear to be a more accurate depiction of Iowa's role in the presidential campaigns than in determining which candidate will be nominated by their respective party. Iowa does play a big part in allowing candidates a chance to showcase their political prowess to a fairly middle of the road state. (See

Iowa can be somewhat of a barometer measuring the nation's state-of-mind because, for the last ten Iowa Caucuses, Iowa has identified the nation's two primary picks for the top runner from both the Democratic and Republican party five times and from just the Democratic party six times. The importance of Iowa may become more significant to the individual candidates running for president than to their individual party simply because it may be cheaper to campaign in Iowa than in many of the other states entertaining the notion of scheduling their primaries closer to the Iowa Caucus. A win in an early state that is cheaper to campaign in gives an advantage to those candidates who would normally not have the funds to campaign in a larger state. Larger states will cost the candidates a greater amount of upfront capital to campaign per registered voter. In addition, Iowa has its' population clustered into regions within the state, which makes it easier to reach potential audiences. Campaigning in a state like Iowa has advantages over larger states because their media outlets will focus on candidates as though they were celebrities, giving them free press and headline news, whereas other states would continue to cater to local celebrities, athletes, and business leaders, giving them the coverage and headline news, which would overshadow a political campaign candidate.

Iowa and other states of similar size are playing a larger role in close elections because of the electoral college. In 2000, the difference between the winner and loser was only five electoral votes, which means states like Arkansas, Tennessee, and Iowa can change an election outcome drastically. (See

How important is Iowa to the Republican candidates?

Every state is important. Every meet-and-greet, every debate. But it's that first impression that stays with you - that shapes how you view an individual, that gets you a 'thumbs-up' or a 'thumbs-down' in the minds of the American voters. So how important is Iowa and the Iowa Caucuses to the Republican Presidential hopefuls? Plenty important. Of all the Republican Presidential candidates who have won the office of the President in the last 30 years, almost all of them have also won the Iowa Caucus. The number of candidates who did well in Iowa is significant. Only two candidates did not go on to become President: John McCain, who skipped most of the Iowa Caucus, and Bob Dole.

If we take a look at the candidates who did not do well in the Iowa Caucus in the last 30 years, none have gone on to become president. This fact makes it extremely important for the Republican party not to give up on a key state, which has played a pivotal role in the past three decades, of voting for a Republican candidate to win their parties presidential nomination.

Will 'tradition' be trampled as other states vie for the 'first in the Nation' title that the Iowa Caucus has held since 1972?

The Iowa Caucus has traditionally been the first step taken in the nomination process for the President of the United States. Presumably, in January of 2012, Iowa will once again, fingers crossed, host the first caucus. In fact, Iowa has a better than 90% chance of keeping its' status as the first caucus in the Nation's primary process. The Iowa Caucus has been a litmus test for presidential candidates, starting back in 1972. Quite a bit more polling research and geographic data has been compiled about Iowa and its' residents than any other state, and this data has been used to assist future presidential candidates with determining areas in the state in which they believe they will have strong support and areas where they believe they will be welcomed weakly. Therefore, it makes sense for candidates to continue to use Iowa as the clearinghouse for narrowing the choices of presidential candidates to the top four individuals from each political party. The 2012 Iowa Caucus will most likely only involve one of the two major political parties, considering a sitting president will be a participant and won't need the vast exposure of the Iowa Caucus as much as a new and unknown candidate.

What makes the political atmosphere of the Iowa Caucus 'traditional' as opposed to other caucuses?

The Iowa Caucus process starts out months before the actual caucus as assembly hall type meetings start to crop up, with candidates making scheduled visits to particular places in Iowa communities. Typically, the meetings takes place at local high schools, universities, libraries, town halls, coffee shops, hotel conference centers, and other public buildings. The smaller venues allow the candidates to interact on a more intimate level while the larger venues allow a wider audience to participate as the candidate is able to move freely amongst the public, shaking hands, answering questions, discussing platform issues, and, hopefully, inspiring fund raisers to assist with campaign donations. Most of the candidates are able to garner quality time with voters because of the small town atmosphere that permeates each meeting. Iowans tend to have more traditional values and believe that the process of selecting the most qualified candidate for president of the United States is very serious business and every citizens duty to their country. Iowans are hospitable to candidates and enjoy engaging others in discussions on political and social issues, and the environment in Iowa has always been safe and inviting for presidential candidates in the 39 years Iowans have been hosting caucuses.

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