Here's Proof That Winning Iowa Doesn't Mean Winning The White House

Depending on your expectations, you're either thrilled with, or nervous about the results of the Iowa Democratic and Republican caucuses. Of course, the cannabis question is top of mind for us, so we can't help but use that lens as we examine the results for each party.

On the Democrat side, the contest has become a two-horse race now that Martin O'Malley has suspended his campaign after coming in a distant third. If Iowa is any indication, primary season will be a competitive race between Clinton and Sanders, who have both promised to reform America's cannabis laws. Bernie's plan is much more ambitious than Hillary's, though he has a lot of work to do to get others to support his proposed reforms.

On the other side of the political spectrum, a three-way race has developed as Senator Ted Cruz (who won the Iowa caucus), Donald Trump and Senator Marco Rubio vie for the Republican nomination. On the marijuana question, they all receive poor grades from the Marijuana Policy Project: Cruz (C+), Trump (C), and Rubio (D).

The Republican with the best grade (relatively speaking) is in the lead after Iowa, and while the Democrat with the best plan (Sanders) is in second place.

But let's not get carried away. The primary season is long, and a close race now might turn into a landslide victory later on, while someone pegged as a contender could quickly become an also-ran. To highlight the unpredictability of primary season, we've put together a list of Iowa winners who went on to lose their party's nominations. And for fun, we've made a cannabis connection for each. Fair warning, there are no pro-legalization advocates in this group - far from it.

1. Rick Santorum, Republican, 2012

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Former Senator Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania) came out of the gate in first place, but he would concede his campaign and the nomination to Romney in April that year when he suspended his campaign to focus on his daughter's health.

He's running again this year, but he came in eleventh place. He plans to keep going by focusing his energy on winning South Carolina on Feb. 20.

The cannabis connection: Santorum received a failing grade from the Marijuana Policy Project for opposing a state's right to legalize cannabis:

"I think federal laws should be enforced," Santorum told Hugh Hewitt in April of last year. "I think Colorado is violating the federal law. And if we have controlled substances, they're controlled substances for a reason. The federal law is there for a reason, and the states shouldn't have the option to violate federal law....[A]s Abraham Lincoln said, you know, states don't have the right to wrong."

2. Mike Huckabee, Republican, 2008

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The former governor of Arkansas won the hearts and minds of Iowan Republicans in 2008, but he ultimately lost the nomination to Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Iowans have really cooled to Huckabee since then. He's running again, but placed ninth in the race and announced on Twitter that he was suspending his campaign.

The cannabis connection: Huckabee is opposed to recreational cannabis use, but he's been open to letting states experiment with legalization. During an interview on KCCI News on Oct. 17, 2015. he said:

"I'm willing to let states operate under the 10th Amendment, and I'm willing for the states, if they think that marijuana and the legalization of it is a great thing...I'm willing for them to experiment and find out."

3. Tom Harkin, Democrat, 1992

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In 1992, the Hawkeye State showed some love for its favorite son, former Senator Tom Harkin, who won the caucus with an overwhelming 76.4 percent of the vote. But Iowa would be his only victory. After several losses, he bowed out and endorsed then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton's successful nomination bid.

The cannabis connection: In 2008, a constituent sent Harkin a letter asking him about medical marijuana. The response was a love letter to prohibition, including the bogus claim that "marijuana use often has fatal consequences." You can read the full letter (in all its Reefer Madness hysteria) here.

4. Bob Dole, Republican, 1988

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Winning the Iowa Caucuses doesn't guarantee success, but coming in third might help. Like Mike Huckabee in 2008, former Senator Bob Dole won Iowa in 1988. But third-place finisher George H.W. Bush - then serving as Ronald Reagan's vice president - would take the nomination and later replace his boss in the White House. Dole would later win the 1996 nomination, losing to Bill Clinton in the general election.

The cannabis connection: In 1982, Bob Dole helped craft a section of the federal tax code that prevented Americans from deducting the costs of advertising illegal drugs as a business expense. (Yes, a dealer actually did that back in the day.) The Brookings Institution has an excellent overview of the legislation and why it will influence legal marijuana markets in legal states. moving forward.

5. Dick Gephardt, Democrat, 1988

Democratic Party Congressman Dick Gephardt was the last man standing when a crowded field of candidates battled it out in Iowa in 1988. Although he eked out the win over Michael Dukakis (the eventual nomination winner), Jesse Jackson, Al Gore and others, he would concede the race the following month.

The cannabis connection: Before Bill Clinton famously said he didn't inhale, Al Gore caused controversy in the lead up to the 1988 nomination race by admitting that he smoked cannabis in college and while serving in the Vietnam War. The move forced the other presidential hopefuls to go on the record about their cannabis use, including Gephardt, who said he never smoked it.

6. George H.W. Bush, Republican, 1980

Before becoming vice president in 1981, and then president in 1989, George H.W. Bush ran for the Republican nomination in 1980. He beat out Ronald Reagan in Iowa, but his future boss would prevail down the stretch.

The cannabis connection: On Sept. 12, 1989, then-President Bush tried to enlist young people in the War on Drugs through his Address to Students on Drug Abuse, which was broadcast live nationwide. In his plea, he made this bold promise about what he would do with drug dealers:

"Maybe you think we'll never get drugs under control, that it's too easy for the dealers to get back on the street. Well, those days are over, too. The revolving door just jammed. Some think there won't be room for them in jail. We'll make room."

7. Edward Muskie, Democrat, 1972

Senator Muskie was the early favorite for the 1972 nomination and won in Iowa. Some blamed his eventual loss to President Richard Nixon. However, he might've lost because Hunter S. Thompson created and circulated a rumor that Muskie was addicted to a hallucinogenic drug called Ibogaine. Either way, Senator George McGovern would win the nomination, and go on to lose to Nixon later that year.

The cannabis connection: Muskie wasn't using hallucinogenic drugs, but he did get a whiff of cannabis during the nomination race. During a rally at the University of Wisconsin on Feb. 3, 1972, Muskie voiced his scepticism about legalizing cannabis. And someone at the event offered a retort by blowing a cloud of marijuana smoke in his face.

h/t Vox, USA Today, National Journal, Washington Post, CNN, WCPO, New York Times, Chicago Tribune


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