Return to Pre-Campaign Period
One indicator of pre-campaign activity is visits by potential candidates to Iowa, site of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.  Hugh Winebrenner, professor of public administration at Drake University, has tracked these visits for several election cycles and notes that pre-campaign Iowa maneuvering has been particularly intense on the Republican side in the lead up to 2000. 
Professor Hugh Winebrenner's Tally of Days Spent in Iowa 
January 20, 1997-November 2, 1998
Democrats:  44 days Republicans: 189 days
Bradley    1 Alexander    36
Dean    2 Ashcroft    17
Gephardt    10 Bauer    6
Gore    5 Buchanan    1
Jackson    6 Dole    4
Kerrey    7 Forbes    15
Wellstone    13 Gingrich    4

Giuliani    1

Kasich    18

Kemp    9

Keyes    9

McCain    2

Quayle    19

Smith    41

F.Thompson    1

T.Thompson    2

J.C.Watts    3
By comparison to the 189 days 17 Republicans spent in Iowa in the Jan. 1997-Nov. 1998 period, at the same point in the pre-1996 campaign 12 Republican prospects had spent just 69 days.  Note that perceived frontrunner Texas Governor George W. Bush did not even set foot in the state during this period.  Winebrenner's tally does not show visits by surrogates; for example, Marilyn Quayle made several extensive trips to Iowa in 1998.
Copyright 1998 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.