Barack Obama – 38%
John Edwards – 30%
Hilary Clinton – 29%
Bill Richardson – 2%
Results – Republicans
Mike Huckabee – 34%
Mitt Romney – 25%
Fred Thompson – 13%
John McCain – 13%
1 – Mike Huckabee: He and Obama's winning margins were just about even, but the Huck won this after being outspent about 10 – 1. Huckabee did a very nice pivot with his speech tonight, focusing on economic issues, mentioning Jesus only once and generally positioning himself for South Carolina. He needs to ride this bounce, pick up money and build a quick ground game in SC and the February 5 states. New Hampshire will be difficult for the Huck, but he should get at least some name improvement after this very impressive win.
2 - Barack Obama: While this is nowhere near the a killing blow, Obama did serious damage to Hilary Clinton and showed he can focus his rock-star status into real results. The vaunted youth vote, proclaimed a big deal in every election since 1972, actually showed up in Iowa. Add his gorgeous acceptance speech, his ability to grow the party, and he looks like the new frontrunner.
3 - John Edwards: While he should have won this thing with the sheer amounts of time and effort spent in Iowa, his second-place finish gives him reason to continue his campaign. Edwards' palpable anger resonates with the Democratic base, especially the netroots. It will be interesting to see how much and how often he attacks Obama. He was effective in attacking Clinton, and could do damage.
4 – The Democratic Party: The turnout for Iowa was an astonishing 239,000. In 2004, turnout was 125,00. The Republicans managed 120,00 this year. And don't listen to those who claim that this was a turnout based on independents and Republicans, according to exit polls, 76% of Democratic caucus-goers identified as Democrats. In 2004 that number was 79%. This is just a larger, more energized party than it was before. Iowa is a nominal red state, won by George W. Bush in 2004.
5 - The Democratic Party: No, this is not a misprint. According to entrance polls, the Democrats have
successfully positioned themselves as the mainstream, centrist party. From Andrew Sullivan:
Now look at how the caucus-goers defined themselves in the entrance polls. Among the Dems: Very Liberal: 18 percent; Somewhat Liberal: 36 percent; Moderate: 40 percent; Conservative: 6 percent. Now check out the Republicans: Very Conservative: 45 percent; Somewhat Conservative: 43 percent; Moderate: 11 percent; Liberal: 1 percent.
The “Very Conservative” and “Very Liberal” numbers are striking. The GOP has painted itself as a borderline-extremist party, the Dems have done the opposite, and have done so running to the left of 2000 and 2004. Sully blames Rove and Bush for this, and I think he's right.
6 – Outsiders: Obama and Huckabee are not really supported by the mainstream machinery of their respective parties. For Obama, the Clintons still have a hold on the party. For Huckabee, large swathes of the GOP (basically anybody not an evangelical) actively loathes him. This is a good thing for American politics.
1 – Mitt Romney: Ouch... this has to hurt. Romney spent massive amounts of money (approximately $100 million total) and ended up getting whipped by a guy who was, let's face it, a nobody until about two weeks ago. The Mittronic 2000 has to win New Hampshire now, or he's toast.
2 – Hilary Clinton: Ooops... Clinton's campaign featured the ugly scent of entitlement, and that has to disappear if she expects to get anywhere. About 48 hours prior to the caucus it become obvious that things weren't going her way, and her people began to furiously backspin away, with Tom Vilsack stating that a strong third would prove Hilary's candadicy. No, it didn't. As the Mrs. Frinklin stated during her concession, “She looks so pissed-off.” She did, and the aging luminaries around her looked shell-shocked. It was an awful, robotic speech too.
3 – The GOP: Okay, so turnout was less than half of that of the opposition. The winner is actively disliked by large portions of the party, the chosen candidate of the party insiders is in shambles, Fred Thompson could dropping out as soon as yesterday, and John McCain (another guy everybody in the party hates) is probably the best candidate in the general election left. Have fun kids!
4 – Chris Dodd and Joe Biden: Well, we hardly knew them did we? Dodd and Biden, both northeastern liberals with sterling resumes, never get an inch of traction and sunk beneath the waves. Yeah, I know I mixed metaphors. Both will be considered for cabinet posts in a possible Democratic administration, and it will be interesting to see who, if anybody, either man endorses. Biden in particular, would make an excellent VP candidate for Obama.
5 – Tom Vilsack: Speaking of VP possibles.. the likable former governor of Iowa ended his own presidential campaign before it started and became one of Hilary's most active surrogates. It didn't take a genius to realize that Vilsack was angling for Hilary's VP slot. Well, getting your candidate waxed in your home state really doesn't help that, now does it?
6 – Rudy Giuliani: Mr. 9/11 finished sixth. I know he pulled out and is concentrating on the February 5th states, but c'mon. Sixth?
What Comes Next?
Obama makes the transition from insurgent to frontrunner, and he will be the story for the next 48 – 72 hours. His story is just too damn good to pass up. Clinton will have to go negative, which is far more acceptable in New Hampshire then in Iowa, and Edwards will hope to edge into second to keep his candidacy alive. The last man standing amongst the Democratic second-tier is Bill Richardson, who may have made a deal with Obama in Iowa, and again could be angling for VP or cabinet post. This has to scare Clinton a bit, he could do serious damage in the debate.
For the GOP, this is now a single elimination tournament for McCain and Romney. One of these two will win New Hampshire and become the anti-Huck. The other goes home with no parting gifts. Huckabee has show something in New Hampshire, and move forward to Michigan and South Carolina, two places where his populist economic message (Michigan) and his Pro-Jesusness (SC) will serve him well. He's still got a ways to go to become a national candidate, but the deck is clearing a bit. Rudy is... well hell, Rudy's dead and he just doesn't know it yet.