Friday, January 04, 2008

Obama and Huckabee win in Iowa

And now, the Iowa caucus results (from Talking Points Memo, which also has a good collection of other relevant items). Barack Obama came out the clear leader on the Democratic side, Mike Huckabee on the Republican. The early front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, trailed significantly--and Clinton even seems to have gotten just slightly fewer votes than John Edwards. Among the Republican candidates, Giuliani got only 4% of the votes, less than half as many as Ron Paul.

Obama's victory speech is HERE. (It gets better as it goes on.)

It may be significant that the Democratic turnout was a lot higher than the Republican turnout: "Just under 220,000 Democrats caucused tonight. About 115,000 Republicans did." [Update 1/4/08: In the end, 239,000 voters participated in the Democratic caucuses, compared with 124,000 in 2004. This year's participants apparently included a lot of registered Independents and even Republicans. According to one AP-commissioned survey, about 20% were Independents; Clinton and Obama got roughly equal support from registered Democrats, but the Independents went heavily for Obama.]

What does all this mean? Josh Marshall's immediate speculations (see below) sound about as plausible and sensible as any I've seen so far--which doesn't mean they will necessarily pan out. At least Marshall is willing to make a bold prediction:
McCain had a pretty poor night tonight, coming in fourth behind the comatose Fred Thompson. But let's not kid ourselves. Romney took a big blow tonight. And if he can't come back strong in New Hampshire his collapse will be McCain's gain -- not because McCain's on fire or has any money or really is in any kind of strong position by most objective measures. The truth, though, is that there's simply no one left. It ain't Thompson; ain't Rudy. You can't say Huckabee's out of it but put me down with those that just don't think he can overcome the twin hurdles of a) running amongst more moderate and cosmopolitan Republican electorates and b) running against almost the entire GOP establishment. And that leaves you with McCain.

The truth is that the Republican party tonight is in complete disarray. The best financed candidate just fell on his face. Their big winner of the evening is opposed by almost the entire establishment of his party. The frontrunner of recent months is lost down in Florida shakily repeating '9/11' under his breath like a hobo who needs a stiff drink.

McCain's just the only guy left. And that ain't nothing. Because one of them does have to win. And I'd rather see the Dems face Romney than McCain.
Could that turn out be right? It is true, of course, that McCain is the only candidate of serious presidential stature running on the Republican side, and he has been having a recent surge of support in New Hampshire (along with getting endorsements from the state's biggest newspaper, the Manchester Union Leader, and a major regional newspaper, the Boston Globe. . But he is so passionately (almost irrationally) hated by strong sections of the Republican right that it's hard to believe he can actually get the nomination. On the other hand, what do I know?

--Jeff Weintraub
-------------------------

HUCKABEE AND OBAMA WIN BY BIG MARGINS Romney trails Huckabee as Giuliani is beaten by Ron Paul. Edwards apparently edges Hillary for second.
  • Edwards: Change Won, Hillary Lost
  • Obama Wins the Woman Vote
  • Record-Shattering Dem Turnout
  • Result Leaves GOP Field In Disarray
  • last updated: 12:04 am ET
    Democrats (1,781/1,781 reporting) Republicans (86% reporting)
    candidate state del.
    percentage
    candidate votes percentage
    Biden 0
    0.93% Giuliani 3,613 4%
    Clinton 0
    29.47% Huckabee 35,621 34%
    Dodd 0 0.02% Hunter 458 0%
    Edwards 0
    29.75% McCain 13,693 13%
    Kucinich 0 0% Paul 10,184 10%
    Obama 0
    37.58% Romney 26,524 26%
    Richardson 0
    2.11% Thompson 13,932 13%
    -------------------------
    Talking Points Memo
    January 3, 2007 - 11:34 p.m.
    Where We Are
    By Josh Marshall

    It's always hard to explain in advance, particularly to people who aren't political junkies, just how it is that a victory in a small and not very representative state like Iowa can powerfully shape the race going forward. Why does someone in Florida or New Hampshire or New Mexico care one way or another what people in Iowa do? But you're already beginning to see it.

    Some of it is simply crowd instinct. We're social creatures. Victory is attractive, especially if you don't have clear commitments -- ideological or partisan -- going in. But there's something more than that too.

    Barack Obama's speech sounds very different now that he's talking from a position of political strength, rather than where things were a few months ago, when he seemed like he was getting lapped by Hillary. And let's face it, it was quite a speech. It made me think again of 2004.

    The difference is even more striking and perhaps more realistic with Romney. Purely for my own reasons, I would have liked Romney to do better tonight, because I think he'd be a very weak national candidate. Rudy's already toast. Trailing Ron Paul tonight was just a confirmation of that. He's not even relevant. With Romney though, he spent tons, tons of money, absolutely put his all in to Iowa and he got smoked by Huckabee who barely spent anything by comparison.

    On various levels, Romney put his all into Iowa. And he got thumped.

    McCain had a pretty poor night tonight, coming in fourth behind the comatose Fred Thompson. But let's not kid ourselves. Romney took a big blow tonight. And if he can't come back strong in New Hampshire his collapse will be McCain's gain -- not because McCain's on fire or has any money or really is in any kind of strong position by most objective measures. The truth, though, is that there's simply no one left. It ain't Thompson; ain't Rudy. You can't say Huckabee's out of it but put me down with those that just don't think he can overcome the twin hurdles of a) running amongst more moderate and cosmopolitan Republican electorates and b) running against almost the entire GOP establishment. And that leaves you with McCain.

    The truth is that the Republican party tonight is in complete disarray. The best financed candidate just fell on his face. Their big winner of the evening is opposed by almost the entire establishment of his party. The frontrunner of recent months is lost down in Florida shakily repeating '9/11' under his breath like a hobo who needs a stiff drink.

    McCain's just the only guy left. And that ain't nothing. Because one of them does have to win. And I'd rather see the Dems face Romney than McCain.

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