Friday, January 4, 2008

The Results From Iowa

The first speed bump on the Road to the White House has been crossed, the Iowa Caucus is over and done, and not much was accomplished. It picks up some speed from here on though, and we should know who the presidential nominees are by February 5, Super Duper Tuesday. On that date, both parties will hold primaries or caucuses in 19 states, three other states will hold Dem caucuses and one state will hold a Repub primary. The whole nominating process was accelerated by various states trying to move their primaries up, with Iowa and New Hampshire following suit to retain their "first in the nation" status. A couple of states have groused with the two parties over their moves.

Wyoming's Repub caucus takes place this Saturday, but the next major event on the calendar is the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, January 8. There used to be a couple of weeks between Iowa and New Hampshire. This year, it's just five days.

The big story in Iowa on the Dem side is the huge turnout ("huge" being a relative term), which benefited Obama. Edwards expended a lot of effort in the state to finish in second place ahead of Clinton. The final numbers are looking like Obama 38%, Edwards 30% and Clinton 29%. Edwards needs more money and more media attention to make this a three-person race. A good finish in New Hampshire would go a long way. Chris Dodd found support lacking in Iowa, and dropped out of the presidential contest almost as soon as results started coming in. Joe Biden soon followed suit. The other Dem candidates are barely holding on.

On the Repub side, Romney, the front-runner just a short time ago, was trampled in Iowa by Huckabee's "aw shucks" folksiness. The Huckster needs to ride the momentum to some more early victories, and also needs a fresh pile of cash to compete with Romney. Mitt, a venture capitalist/multi-millionaire, seems to be prepared to spend all of his personal fortune to win the presidency. Guiliani, who has been running a tutorial on how not to win the presidency, wasn't clicking too well with Iowans and quit campaigning in the state to concentrate on some of the later contests. He barely garnered any support at all (3.5%). The Repub numbers have Huckabee at 34% and Romney at 24%. Fred Thompson edged John McCain for third place.

I switched back and forth between CNN and MSNBC for coverage and saw quite a few of the candidates' speeches. "Change" seemed to be the general mantra. Romney had a hard time putting a good spin on his "silver medal."

There's been a lot of griping about Iowa and New Hampshire, two small, almost-lily white states, having such a prominent role in presidential politics. I've got no problem with it; they can have it. I think it's pretty good that the states are so small. A good percentage of the population can meet with the various candidates face-to-face and start the winnowing process, separating the serious candidates from those that are only fooling themselves. And the people of these tiny states are bombarded night and day with TV and radio ads, direct mail, and telephone calls from the various campaigns. I don't envy them that at all.

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