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Iowa political reporting guru-turned-Illinois academic can't stay away from caucuses

A longtime Iowa reporter-turned-Illinois academic has been pulled back into the whirlwind coverage of his home state's presidential caucuses.

David Yepsen covered nine Iowa caucuses for the Des Moines Register and became the go-to-guy for out-of-town reporters looking for analysis. And though he's no longer a reporter, he's still all over the news ahead of tonight's vote, with recent appearances including C-SPAN, MSNBC and CBS.

Yepsen left the paper after the 2008 election to lead the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. He's back in Iowa now for the winter break, bouncing from interview to interview.

"There's a certain adrenaline rush that goes with covering politics in a political campaign. Everything's always in motion, the news is constantly changing, constantly reaction to developments," Yepsen said Tuesday as he waited for another cable news interview.

"You know, I miss some of that excitement," he said. "But - I must say - it does take a toll on you after a while. And, so it's nice to be able to sit back and reflect a little bit more on what's going on."

Yepsen said he'll be back in Carbondale on Wednesday or Thursday to resume his duties at SIU.

Illinois voters don't get a say in the presidential race until March 20th. Yepsen said "odds-are" the Republican primary will over before then.

"But there is a scenario where it could have some meaning," he added, noting that more states this year will allocate delegates to presidential candidates by a proportional vote, rather than winner-takes-all.

"That means that a candidate who gets a slice of the votes is also going to get a slice of the delegates, and that may keep the race going on a little bit longer than it has in the past," Yepsen said. "And it may in fact be that the Illinois Republican primary is going to be an important one."

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