Down the Ballot

Monday, January 9, 2012

Iowa & New Hampshire Campaign Items

2 1/4" inch Bradley campaign from 2000.
One of the more interesting subsets of collecting political memorabilia is the First in the Nation subset. Items from campaigns for president from the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary. Every four years since 1972, these two states have held the exclusive privilege of being the fist caucus and primary for president. New Hampshire has held a primary since 1916, but the nation didn't start paying attention to it in any great detail until about 1952. These are contests that allow little known and underfunded presidential hopefuls square off and possibly upset the big name candidates.

1952 centered around  Democrat Harry S. Truman. The president took a hit in New Hampshire from Senator Estes Keafuver. He beat Truman and caused the President to abandon his plans for re-election. This set New Hampshire up for more media and political attention for the future.

The Iowa Caucus' started off a little differently. The first winner of the Iowa Caucus in 1972 was 'uncommitted'. Iowa Democrats apparently did not like the choices being offered to them that year. Uncommitted and Maine Senator Edmund Muskie both came out with 36% of the vote. 1976 would also have 'uncommitted' come out on top of the caucus. Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter finished with votes.

Perhaps the greatest reason to pay attention to Iowa and New Hampshire is that these races are sometimes the only places to see long shot, dark horse, and single issue candidates before the media attention is taken over completely by the more established candidates. Did you know there are 33 Republicans on the NH GOP ballot for Tuesday? Republican voters will have 33 candidates to choose from. Democrats will not have as many as they did four years ago, but President Obama will not be the only candidate appearing on the Democratic ballot. Thirteen other candidates will be on the ballot with him. Including Pro-Life activist Randal Terry, and progressive writer Darcy Richardson

One obstacle for collectors is that sometimes campaigns offer different items from what they sell on their national stores than what they give out freely to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. This happens a lot, especially at single one day events like debates and straw polls. Provided below are some images of my Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary items.

These two pins were made by a grassroots supporter of Presidential candidate Ron Paul in 2008 for both the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary. They are both 2 1/4" inch pins.

 Here is a an example of a single day event pin from the famous debate where Reagan told everyone he'd paid for the damn microphone. This pin was most likely produced by a vendor for the newspaper to be sold at the event. Remember as nice as it is for NH and IA to host these contests and debates, they after all are interested in how much money these campaigns can spend in these tiny states to boost the local economy.

Here is another IA-NH issues from the same campaign. The Welcome Ted Kennedy pin is from his first visit to Cedar Rapids, Iowa of campaign '80. Senator Ted Kennedy would lose the Iowa Caucus to the first ever 'real' winner of the Democratic contest, President Jimmy Carter in 1980.  This pin takes on the standard color schemes of most of the Kennedy campaigns items. Blue and White were his standard colors.
New Hampshire would also be difficult for Ted Kennedy in 1980, it being in his political backyard of New England, he was expected to fairly well in the Granite State. Yet again, he would lose to President Carter.

Winning Iowa and New Hampshire is by no means a guarantee to winning the nomination. In 2008, Senator Hillary Clinton won the Democratic race but didn't have enough delegates to secure the nomination. The same happened in 1992 for both Iowa and New Hampshire. Senator Tom Harkin won Iowa and Senator Paul Tsongas won New Hampshire. Neither of them expected Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton to best them for the nomination. Republican Senator John McCain is a rare individual, he has won the primary twice (2000 and 2008) and has both failed to gain the nomination and also won the nomination.

Here is a large set of pins from the 1988 NH Primary, featuring early candidates that dropped out shortly after the primary. Paul Laxalt, Al Haig, Pete DuPont, Joe Biden, and Paul Simon all were short lived candidates. Current Vice President Joe Biden dropped out of the race in September of 1987, before any contests had been held. He faced media scrutiny over a supposed issue of plagiarism. He was later cleared of these charges.  Dole and Jackson held on longer, but still couldn't defeat Bush or Dukakis.

 Interesting to note both Bush and Dukakis finished third in the Iowa Caucus that year. Most of these pins here are lithographs. Joe Biden and Bob Dole would both seek their parties nominations again, Dole winning the 1996 GOP nomination and Joe Biden returning 20 years later to battle for the 2008 Democratic nomination. This time Biden would get the Vice Presidential nomination. Several pins from his two presidential campaigns can be found. I will probably be doing a separate article on these items.
Here are two Howard Dean pins from IA and NH from 2004. Howard Dean was for most of 2003 considered the frontrunner, but slipped in the polls during the final weeks of the campaign. A large grassroots effort was initiated by the Dean campaign. Supporters suddenly started showing up in these Orange winter hats (that looked rather warm and comfy for cold Iowa winters). The campaign hoped to create a perfect storm of volunteers to help turn out the vote to win the January caucus. Both of these pins are 2 1/4" and should say they were made for the Howard Dean for America store by volunteers on the curl.
All in all winning Iowa and New Hampshire can lead to mixed results. If an underdog does well, like Rick Santorum did last week during the 2012, expect to see more media coverage given to these underdogs. If a naturally high performing frontrunner suffers even a minor defeat, it could lead to bigger problems further down the primary calender. Do you have any Iowa or New Hampshire items you want to share? Post them at It is a free site that you can show off your collection with other collectors and even sell and trade with others who share your interest.
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