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Thoughts on Iowa
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, January 03, 2008

Naturally, there's a lot of opinion and spin beginning to emerge about what happened in Iowa tonight and what it means. Here are my thoughts.

First, Iowa is an odd political animal. It's a caucus state which, as I explained previously, really means that its selections aren't really made as they are in traditional primary states where an actual vote is taken as on any election day. Voting is at a specific time during the day and that sort of a set up has a tendency to attract more activists than a normal election might.

But Iowa is also the first chance for candidates to make an impression on an electorate, and thus, despite the system, that state gets more attention than it probably deserves. That said, for the caucus winners, Iowa got all the attention it needed.

If ever the term "retail politics" had meaning, it is in this particular effort. With the long lead time (this being the first state to express a political opinion), candidates spend and inordinate amount of time and money trying to come out on top. Obviously the same sort of effort isn't possible as they move on through the primary system. And at some point, such as Super Tuesday, candidates are on a dizzying schedule among many states which don't allow for the time or effort they make in Iowa.

So for all of that background, what about what happened there last night? Well, a couple of thoughts. The first theme, at least for Iowans, was their vote wasn't for sale. The best financed campaigns didn't take the win. I think that surprised some people, me included. I figured one of the two, either Clinton or Romney, would pull off a win.

But both were soundly beaten, with each going down by 9 points and Clinton ending up in third place.

While it is a set back for Romney, it was a disaster for Clinton. As someone commented, John Edward's post-caucus speech sounded more like a victory speech than that of a second place finisher. The reason it sounded like that is because he beat Hillary Clinton.

The second theme of the caucus was "change". And it became a finger pointing game as to who was and wasn't the "agent of change". John Edwards, again pointing to Hillary Clinton, said in his speech that change had won and the status quo (guess who that might be) had lost.

And I believe another significant thing that happened tonight was that a black man won a very white state and that makes a very big difference as to how Barack Obama will now be perceived in other states as a viable candidate. I'm sure there are those who will attempt to dismiss this point, but it is both important, significant and historic. It will also build momentum for the Obama campaign in New Hampshire and beyond.

On the other hand, Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden found out they weren't viable candidates and dropped out of the race. And John McCain made a respectable showing while Fred Thompson showed up (even though each had almost identical numbers).

And Huckabee? Well, we'll see. I'm not ready to believe he's the man yet. He had an almost prefect constituency in Iowa - rural evangelicals who didn't quite buy into Romney and took the alternative candidate when he presented himself. Huckabee also had time to work that situation to his advantage. Neither the constituency or the time will be available during the rest of the primaries like they were in Iowa.

Lastly, the energy level among Democrats is reported to have been off the scale. Democratic caucuses which expected a certain amount of attendees saw double that amount. That's not to say the Republican caucuses weren't well attended, they were, but we've all learned that no matter what is said and done in a campaign, get out the vote efforts are what win them. If what I heard was any indicator, the Democrat GOTV effort was more successful than the Republican effort.

But, when all is said and done, this is number one of fifty. This starts the race, it certainly doesn't finish it. And you can expect, in fact you can probably count on, one if not both of the winners in Iowa to be gone sometime after super-tuesday. It has happened before.

So while Iowa was both interesting and entertaining, it's history and it's on to the New Hampshire primary in 5 days.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I sure hope Iowa turns out to be the anomaly it usually is. A far left person with charisma on one side, and a religious populist with charisma on the other. That is a goddamn scary thought.
Written By: kyleN
I thought it was more of a disaster for Romney. He put everything he had into it, including a huge chunk of his own money. Silly Man, doesn’t he realize that the more people get to know him, the more that they get to know him. I just hope he stays in the race long enough to lose his so-called Home State. That SOB didn’t run for re-election b/c he knew he had no chance. Fool us once ....
Written By: Pedro the Illegal Alien
URL: http://
Dodd was the big candidate for the nutroots and at .02% of the vote that pretty much puts their record as a solid losing streak.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Clinton is in big trouble. Her aura of invincibility is gone. Her experience impressed no one. Her negative ads backfired. Obama is turning out the crowds and raising lots of money. She also lost the women’s vote.

A loss in Iowa makes he more vulnerable in New Hampshire. It now looks as if she doesn’t have a prayer in South Carolina. Word is Marc Penn, the longtime Clinton strategist and pollster, will take the fall for assuming Hillary would win the primaries and caucuses and triangulating early for the general election. Several weeks ago, Hillary suggested eliminating all these primaries and just nominating her. Yeah, right!

The real problem is that Hillary, unlike her husband, is not a good campaigner. She can’t think on her feet and could well use a charisma transplant. The "comeback kid, she isn’t." People don’t like her.
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
The symptoms of CPFS are easy to decipher: a fear of ringing telephones, suspicion of strangers asking, “What issues matter to you?” and a proclivity for withholding support from the campaign that telephones the most.
One elderly woman here at the Whistle Stop Cafe, who declined to give her name for fear of getting put on more call lists, was clearly a CPFS sufferer.
“It’s too much. I don’t even know if I’ll go at all, and here I am getting all these calls about will I support this person or that and, really, enough already!” she said.
This is part of the larger group known as CMFS (Chronic Media Fatigue Syndrome).
I noticed this personally in 2006, when the overdose of media spots by candidates was more likely to turn you against those running the ad.

Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Here’s what I saw in Iowa...

The Anti Vote....

Yes, Hillary, people don’t like you no matter how nice you say you are. Fatally flawed candidate - Rove

Romney is unelectable. The Christian Right was out in force to send the "cult member" packing....The bigotry of that is a sad but an undeniable truth. He’s done. The big money bags in the Republican PArty will not be impressed by someone that outspent his opponent 10 to 1 to produce a 9 point loss...Romney is in a MUST WIN saituation in NH....

MSM declared Fred Thompson as "not the savior"...the BIG DIRTY SECRET...Bill Clinton was "not the savior"....

Fred Thompson found out that convenetional wisdom doesn’t work in these unconventional times...hopefully a sleeping giant has awakened...may the spice flow!

Contrary to MSM opinion, Thompson had a good night...polling at 8 to 12 he pulled in 13 by actually campaigning the last two weeks...and Mary Matalin has said they are playing the Super Tuesday game along with Guliani. That may change as we move forward and we will see more effort.

Ron Paul also doubled his numbers. Giddy they are....

The Huckster....can he survive the lime light?....He can’t dodge the hard questions forever. And I believe him tobe a "fatally flwaed candidate". Dukhakis II.

Pass the popcorn please.

Written By: Khepri
URL: http://

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