When Dick Gephardt eked out a win in the 1988 Iowa caucuses, no one was under the illusion that the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination was over. Nor was it over in 1992 when Iowans chose favorite son Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE and Paul Tsongas won in New Hampshire, both defeating eventual nominee Bill ClintonBill ClintonCongress needs to assert the war power against a dangerous president House Dems push to censure Trump over Charlottesville response Too many Americans with insurance are being denied coverage MOREJohn McCainJohn McCainBush biographer: Trump has moved the goalpost for civilized society White House to pressure McConnell on ObamaCare McCain: Trump needs to state difference between bigots and those fighting hate MORE found that a lopsided New Hampshire win was not enough to survive the awaiting Bush 2000 machine.

But in 2004, John KerryJohn KerryCongress needs to assert the war power against a dangerous president Sinclair and 'Big Media': The outrage that caused the outrage Tillerson sets a lost State Department on the right course MORE went from single digits to a surprise win in Iowa in what seemed like the blink of an eye, and by the time voters had rubbed their eyes and refocused, Kerry was already the presumptive nominee. His Iowa glow carried into a win in New Hampshire, and the campaign was effectively over long before the alleged “super Tuesday

The most important job interview: Presidential primaries ideally are a national vetting process in which voters within the parties can take a careful look at  their potential standard bearers via speeches, debates, and personal interaction. They want a good sense of a candidate’s grasp of the issues, ability to handle adversity, and even their regional strengths.  They also can take this chance to fully debate the potential future direction of their party, which is more “in play