The Iowa Democratic Party said that with 96 percent of the precincts reporting, they were seeing record turnout, with 227,000 caucus attendees. In 2004, their turnout was about 125,000 caucus goers.
The Iowa Republican Party is also projecting record turnout, with 120,000 people taking part in the Republican caucuses. About 87,000 people took part in the 2000 Republican caucuses.
The point here is an energized base is obviously critical to turnout and the GOTV effort as well. The more energized base last night, by far, was the Democratic base.
Speaking of Democrats, some interesting numbers in caucus entrance polls. Obama took 41% of the independent vote. Caucus goers identified two top issues (at 35% each) and they were the economy and the war in Iraq. Obama beat both Clinton and Edwards convincingly in each. The third issue that concerned Iowa Democrats was health care. Again, Obama over both of the others convincingly.
An interesting set of numbers had to do with how these Iowans described their own ideology. 18% claimed to be "very liberal" and went 40% for Obama. 36% said they were somewhat liberal and went 36% for Obama. Those describing themselves as moderate (40%) went 33% for Obama. In fact, Obama won the vote in each of those categories. The only one he lost were those who described themselves as "conservative". And where did they go? If you thought Hillary Clinton, you're wrong. Of those describing themselves as conservative (about 6%) they overwhelmingly went for John Edwards (42%). Go figure.
The majority of the Democratic caucus goers were first timers (57%) and 41% were Obama supporters. Surprisingly, the majority of those who had been through the process before (43%), Edwards had the highest percentage of them (30%).
Last, but not least for the Dems, what was the "top candidate quality" caucus goers were looking for in a candidate? By far the most popular quality (52%) was "Can Bring Change". Obama got 51% of that vote, Edwards 20% and Clinton 19%. That strongly suggests that Obama successfully sold his message of being the agent of change.
The second most desired quality (barely at 20%) was "Experience". Clinton took that vote convincingly with 49% while Edwards only managed 9% and Obama 5%.
Third was "Cares about people" (sigh) at 19%. Edwards took that one at 44% while Clinton and Obama were in the twenties.
The last concern, interestingly, was "Electability". Only 8% saw this as the most important quality and surprisingly Edwards took that category at 30% followed by Clinton and then Obama.
One of the more interesting questions had to do with feelings concerning the Bush Administration. Those caucus goers who felt "enthusiastic" (20%), "satisfied" (48%), and "dissatisfied" (26%), went for Huckabee, followed closely by Romney. But in the last category, "angry" (5%), suddenly the Paul vote emerges. 54% for Paul. Paul also took the majority of the independent vote (29%).
As predictable as sunrise, the only place in the income categories that Romney took the majority was in the highest category.
The top issues for Republican voters were "Illegal Immigration" (33%), "Economy" (26%), "Terrorism" (21%), and "War in Iraq" (17%). Again, Huckabee took them all, but McCain took second in the war in Iraq category and third in terrorism. He took 5th (even behind Paul) in illegal immigration. That remains his biggest problem issue for Republicans. Romney took second in all of the categories but war in Iraq.
Top candidate qualities broke down as "Shares My Values" (45%), "Say What He Believes" (33%), "Experience" (14%), "Electability" (7%). Huckabee took the first two categories and Romney the second two. Again, just as we saw on the Democratic side, experience and electability took second place to other more personal qualities.
Romney took the urban vote while Huckabee took the suburban and rural vote.
Last, but not least, and this goes back to my point in the post below about wondering whether Huckabee will ever again see a more perfect constituency for him, there was a question about how much the religious belief of the candidate mattered to the caucus goer. In the largest category, "A Great Deal" (36%), Huckabee took 56% of the vote (Romney only got 11% and tied with McCain and Thompson). In the second category, "Somewhat" (31%), Huckabee took it with 30% while Romney closed to 26%. The third category, "Not Much" (18%) saw Romney take it convincingly (38% to Huckabee's 15%). And in the "Not at All" (15%) category, Romney buried Huckabee (40% to 5%).
Given those numbers it is hard to argue that Huckabee didn't ride a wave of religiously based voting to a win. The question is, can he duplicate that elsewhere, given the quickening of the pace of the primaries and the large number of state primaries leading up to Super Tuesday on February 5th? I don't think he can and that leads me to believe he'll begin fading.
So, there are the facts and figures behind the Iowa vote. Interesting stuff. New Hampshire will be the next test of the candidates and the Democratic debate this weekend will be of interest just to see how they handle their finish in Iowa.