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 HarkinThe Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds MORE and Paul Tsongas won in New Hampshire, both defeating eventual nominee Bill ClintonBill ClintonAll five living former presidents to attend hurricane relief concert The Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report MOREJohn McCainJohn Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE found that a lopsided New Hampshire win was not enough to survive the awaiting Bush 2000 machine.

But in 2004, John KerryJohn Forbes KerryFor the sake of national security, Trump must honor the Iran deal Bernie Sanders’s 1960s worldview makes bad foreign policy DiCaprio: History will ‘vilify’ Trump for not fighting climate change 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