The Iowa Caucuses Liveblogging Posted by: Dale Franks
on Thursday, January 03, 2008
The caucus attendees (Caucusers? Caucusgoers? Caucasians?) are meeting even as I write this. I'll be liveblogging until the caucuses are over. Maybe some of the other guys will join in as well.
1739: No numbers are out yet, but, based on attendance, the Obama campaign is reporting that over 200,000 voters showed up, which means that a lot of new caucusers are in attendance, which is good news for them. Huckabee is also having a strong showing.
1743: Ah, the first raw—and essentially meaningless—numbers are out from early-breaking caucuses. So far, Edwards has 34% on the Dem Side, followed by Obama at 31%. On the "R" side, Huckabee is at 33%, with Romney at 24%. Clinton and Thompson are running 3rd in their caucuses so far. Apparently, a huge number of evangelical Christians came out to vote tonight. Entrance polling is showing that 45% of people who love the Baby Jesus are voting for Huckabee.
1747: The Dem results, by the way, are pretty iffy at this point. Remember, the raw numbers are later weighted by precinct. So the "winner" of the raw number may not, in fact, be the overall caucus winner. How...Democratic.
1750: John McCain is running a close 4th behind Thompson. He says, "Who cares. We always knew I'd be a loser here, and I'm proud of the fellow losers in my fine organization."
1752: 15% of Republican caucuses have reported. So far, the results are mirroring the entrance polling. Huckabee-36%; Romney-23%;Thompson-14%;McCain-12%. It looks like Huckabee wins it here, despite having a bad last week. Big question of the night among Iowa caucusers: "Rudy who?"
1755: 28% of Democratic caucuses are reporting. Edwards seems to be coming out of nowhere, leading at 33%, tied with Obama. Number 2 is Hillary Clinton, at a close 32%. Also-ran Bill Richardson is polling at 2%. Worse loser than McCain.
1757: Mitt Romney is on the TV. Fantastic Hair! He had previously said that to win the presidency, you have to win in Iowa. He's not saying that now, oddly. he is saying that Mike Huckabee is an ass, however.
1800: Now 34% of the Dems are reporting, and Obama edges into the lead with 33%. Edwards and Clinton are at 32%. Meanwhile, Ron Paul got 11% of the vote on the Republican side, followed by Rudy at 4%. A moral victory for the Ronulans.
1806: 46% of Democrats are reporting now. Obama is pulling away slightly, with 34% now. My assumption at this point is that we're seeing the smaller precincts reporting, so we may see some signifigant shifting in the next hour as more populous precincts report. Entrance polling shows Obama with a commanding lead. That's more likely to shift with the Dem process, though, so we'll see. Meanwhile, Biden and Richardson are rumored to have told their supporters to cast their votes for Obama if they fail to meet the 15% threshold they need for delegates.
1812: Apparently, the Dem precincts reporting are smaller, rural precincts. Bad news for Edwards, then, because that's where his populist strength is. If Obama is winning in the rural parts of the state, then he's on track to slam Clinton and especially Edwards when the urban precincts begin reporting. To the extent that Iowa has urban precincts, of course. Clinton really needs to beat Edwards at the end of the day. If he comes in third, then stick a fork in him, he's done. And it'll be down to a 2-man race moving forward. If Hillary finishes third, then she has to hope her political machine can come back from the loss, like her husband did in '92.
1818: Dem reporting is at 62% now. Obama is pulling away at 35%, with Clinton and Edwards now tied at 31%.
1820: The odious Ed Rollins is now claiming the "Big Mo" for Huckabee in New Hampshire. So did Ed Muskie. I hope Mr. Rollins is equally wrong. I'd vote for Hillary before Huckabee. Rollins is the sorest winner I've ever seen.
1826: About 75% of the Dem precincts are reporting in, the numbers are unchanged. Clinton is still at 31%, and that's not good for her. She's been the uncrowned front-runner all year, and her first move out of the gate is to get less than 1/3 of Democratic votes. I could—and Obama certainly will—make the argument that Democrats are looking for someone other than Hillary to serve as president. They're calling Iowa for Obama. They are being cagey about the actual percentage of the result, though. The thinking is that Obama will probably pull away some more.
1831: Obama is, in fat, puling away more, with 36%. Edwards is in 2nd with 31%, and Clinton in 3rd with 30%. That's with 78% reporting. In entrance polling, more than half of the caucusers were first-timers in the process, and 39% of them say they were for Obama.
1840: Now, the only thing that remains is to see how big Obama's lead ends up being. He's up by 7% now. That's interesting in that Iowa is 95% white, there are no major urban centers, and a negligible black vote.
1845: Clinton has been campaigning as the inevitable choice. After all, her husband was president. But, as comedian Chris Rock recently pointed out, that just isn't a qualification, nor does it constitute "experience". When you get on an airplane, after all, do you want the pilot's wife sitting in the pilot's seat instead of the pilot? Do you want the surgeon's wife to perform your triple bypass? On top of that, in Iowa she's also been campaigning somewhat ludicrously and conversely as an agent of change. It looks to me like Iowa Democrats looked at Clinton and decided that Obama is a better candidate, and is certainly a better agent of change. If she looks vulnerable, and Obama looks like a winner among Dems, I think this really hurts her. I think the Democrats are looking for someone else. And I don't think they see her as a proxy for her husband. She's been the default choice, but I think that's been an unenthusiastic choice. If this breaks out as Obama being a credible alternative to Clinton, then I think that makes her extraordinarily vulnerable. She really does have, then, to have a formidable, powerful political machine to pull out the upcoming primaries. That is the strength that may save her. her weakness, of course, is that Obama is just far more likeable. So, in the end, the real question is whether the candidate or the machine make the difference. Clinton better hope it's the machine.
1856: Apparently, Clinton's biggest appeal is among seniors. Rich, young, or liberal Dems broke heavily for Obama.
1900: It's all over but the shouting now. Huckabee takes 34%, followed by Romney at 25%, and Thompson at 13%. Obama wins with 38%, followed by Edwards at 30% and Clinton with 29%.
So, we now move ahead to New Hampshire.
Huckabee is at a disadvantage there. He has way less cash than Romney, and people in New Hampshire just don't love the Baby Jesus as much as Iowans do. Or, at least, not in the same way. Romney will be able to beat him like an egg-sucking dog in terms of ad buys. Huckabee's strength really lies with evangelical Christians. I don't think that's enough of the conservative coalition to allow him to win over the long run.
Obama, for his part, seems to have really solidified the anti-Hillary vote among Dems. I think that Edwards now serves mainly as a spoiler for Obama. What I expect at this point is to see Edwards voters beginning to gravitate towards Obama, rather than Clinton. Ultimately, Edwards is done. But, his remaining in the race weakens Obama, not Clinton. The sooner Edwards drops out, the better it is for Obama.
Moreover, as the primaries move south, I expect the black vote to go very strongly towards Obama, especially if he looks to be a more viable candidate now. That hurts Clinton as well. The strength and experience of her political team has always been highly touted, since they are the only team that has already worked for 8 years at the presidential level. Clinton better hope that the team is every bit as good as it's reputed to be.
The evening's festivities have already had a big impact on the futures markets at Intrade. In New Hampshire, Obama's contract to win the primary has jumped by 26 cents to 60, while Clinton's has dropped by 35 cents to 25. In South Carolina, Obama is up by 9.9 to 60, while Clinton has dropped 5 to 35. On the Republican side, Romney has fallen by 9 cents on the New Hampshire contract to 20, while McCain has jumped by 5 to 65. Huckabee has also risen by 2.9 points, but the last trade was still only 4.9. A big switch in South Carolina also has Romney down by 10.9 cents to 12.1, while McCain has jumped by 9 to 30.
We'll see how, or if, those sentiments shift over the next 5 days, but this hasn't been a good night for Romney or Clinton.
Guiliani is being hurt too. The lack of attention may make his ’big state’ strategy fall apart. Romney now looks like a loser, spending massive amounts only to collapse. It could be McCain vs. Huckabee for the GOP, and that creates an opportunity for Thompson as well. I wonder how Ron Paul will do in traditionally libertarian New Hampshire?