This blog continues the discussion that we began with Epic Journey: The 2008 Elections and American Politics (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009).The latest book in this series is Defying the Odds: the 2016 Elections and American Politics.
Saturday's Iowa straw poll "the biggest test so far" for many of the Republican presidential wanna-bees taking part, but the results are non-binding and the contest "really doesn't tell us anything about their national standing," says CBS News correspondent Norah O'Donnell.
Still, she added on "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," the straw poll "does say a lot about the campaigns' organization and strategy."
CBS News political analyst John Dickerson said, "It doesn't pick winners, but it can be a graveyard for candidacies.
"In 1999, (Tenn. Sen.) Lamar Alexander made a big effort and then didn't do very well in the straw poll, and that was the end of it for him. He dropped out of the race. (Former Health and Human Services Secretary and ex-Wis. Gov.) Tommy Thompson, in 2007 -- the same thing happened to him.
"So, it doesn't tell us who the winner is, but Iowa doesn't really do that as much as it tells you what the field's going to look like going forward. It winnows out candidates, so this may be the last place for some of these campaigns. They may disappear after the ... straw poll."