The Results in Iowa or We Need Run-offs (Updated)

The final results of the Iowa caucus are in and Obama has won for the Democrats with 38%, Huckabee for the Republicans with 34%. Contrary to whatever else you might read, I don’t think much else was accomplished. In both parties nearly two-third preferred candidates other than the “winner”.

Obama will, no doubt, gain further steam from his narrow victory in Iowa. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have dropped out of the race. Their candidacies had no chance anyway. With them most of the substance in the Democratic campaigns will depart, too. If Kucinich and Gravel fold, most of color will have been drained from the contest.

Much will be made of the impact of the result on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. I think that, if, as I expect, she wins in New Hampshire, she’ll shrug it off completely. Edwards is stung by the defeat in a state to which he’d devoted so much time, money, and energy. I think that those who attribute to Obama’s win to the influx of new, particularly young voters are correct. He brings an energy to the campaign none of the other candidates can duplicate.

Expect Obama, Edwards, and Clinton to hang in through February 5 when I believe the Democratic nomination will be determined.

I (and many others) predicted Huckabee’s victory so I’m not surprised by it. I expect a “Stop Huckabee” sentiment to begin to appear among regular Republicans. It’s a survival instinct. I continue to doubt that the country is ready for another president from Hope, Arkansas or a president who is a Baptist minister. How the anti-Huckabee move develops will probably determine the outcome of the race on the Republican side.

90% of Republican voters voted for a candidate other than Ron Paul. Lame denials and graceless retorts from Ron Paul supporters in 5…4…3…

James Joyner has a solid round-up of media and blogospheric commentary and some wise observations of his own:

A Huckabee nomination could conceivably destroy the party. Not only would he be lucky to break 40 percent in the general election against any of the plausible Democratic nominees but many fiscal conservatives and Chamber of Commerce Republicans would bolt. When Ronald Reagan and others mobilized rural Christian conservatives in the 1980s, they never expected that they would take such a prominent role in the party. Gradually, though, they took it over at the grass roots level in much of rural America.

Huckabee’s mobilization of fervent evangelicals, many of whom doubtless had never shown up for a caucus prior to last night, scares the hell out of mainstream Republicans. My strong hunch is that they’ll rally around someone else — probably McCain but possibly Romney or Giuliani — in Michigan and New Hampshire.

with which I wholeheartedly agree. An Obama-Huckabee race would remap the political landscape in a fashion analogous to the 1932 election in a way that no other pairing would. Much depends now on whether, nationally, Republicans have a survival instinct or the national party has the same death wish that the Illinois Republican Party has exhibited.

Update 2

Joe Gandelman has an excellent summary of the strategic conundrum facing Hillary Clinton at this point. My guess is that Clinton’s people probably don’t see the situation as being as bleak for her as Joe does. My guess is they’ll change nothing. She’s likely to win in New Hampshire, only a couple of days away, in the first real primary of the season which will boost her back up on that pedestal a bit. Her support comes from the Democratic political machine and they’ll be able to deliver solid results on February 5. Enough to push her across the finish line? Time will tell. I think it might be a race to the very end.

6 comments… add one
  • What do you think of a possible McCain-Huckabee pairing? McCain brings the experience while Huckabee as VP would cement the Christian vote. That would be a hard ticket to beat even for Sen. Obama, unless he too picked a VP that covered his weak side, foreign policy experience.

  • Well, McCain has to win some primaries first. Obviously. Will Huckabee continue his strong finishes in northeastern, midwestern, and western primaries? Frankly, I doubt it, which means he won’t look nearly as strong. Would a Huckabee vice presidency energize the southern social conservatives to vote for a McCain-Huckabee ticket? It’s been nearly a half century since we’ve seen that kind of voting in a presidential election.

  • An Obama-Huckabee race would remap the political landscape in a fashion analogous to the 1932 election in a way that no other pairing would.

    I think this is wild over-statement, which surprises me as you are not prone to that habit. In 1932 the country was in as deep a crisis as it had known since the Civil War. Whatever our problems now they’re nowhere near that magnitude. Also, it is unlikely that Obama is a latter day FDR, capable of remaking the entire federal government to suite his policies and desires.


    Hmm, now that I think about it, though, I think I see what you mean. But I would still say that the change would more likely be on the scale of a 1980 or 1994, not a 1932.

    We Republicans blew our chance to become a Big Tent Party probably around 1988 or 1992. Despite the high water mark of 1994, we’ve been in slow retreat ever since. (1994 was as much about disgust at the Democratic Congress as it was about the Republican message.) We’re about to finally complete our return to permanent minority party status. The only reason we’ll retain what force we have is because of the heavy gerrymandering of recent re-apportionments and because the voters don’t much like the Democrats either. There’s a reason that ~40% of the electorate is independent after all….

  • I don’t think that Obama is on the level of FDR because I don’t think he has either the leadership ability or the political acumen of FDR.

    My interpretation of what happened in Iowa is that Obama attracted a lot of independents and moderates. It’s borne out by the large increase in Democratic turnout. I think that’s pretty likely to be what would happen nationally with an Obama candidacy. My key point here is that Obama is not a partisan firebrand. Although his politics are farther left than I’m completely comfortable with, I believe that he’s temperamentally moderate. That attracts both independents and those disaffected with government.

    That’s an enormous change. More than 1994. At least 1980.

  • Although his politics are farther left than I’m completely comfortable with, I believe that he’s temperamentally moderate. That attracts both independents and those disaffected with government.

    I agree with all of that. But it is all dependent on one politician. When he’s gone from the scene, will he have appreciably changed the political landscape for everyone else? I doubt it. In that since he MAY be Reagan-esque. But I can’t think he’ll be any more than that, if for no other reason than that he’s not really pushing us in some new direction on the policy front.

    And I believe you’re the blogger I’ve been reading that has pointed out that the reason politicians keep using the same-old negative leening strategies is because they tend to work with the voting populace. I don’t see where Iowa really changes that. Voters went with the politicians who were seemingly new to the scene, and were personally likeable. These results would seem to indicate that dissatisfaction with everyone else accounts for a large share of Obama’s and Huckabee’s success.

  • Maybe it’s my own professional prejudice (fiction writer) but I suspect story will trump machine this time. Obama has the narrative. He also happens to have as much money as Hillary, and he has Axelrod who’s as good as anybody in the business. I’ll bet a pot of tea to a cup of coffee next time I’m in Chicago that Obama pulls it off.

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