On the Democratic side, it's Obama (38%), Edwards (30%) and H. Clinton (29%), with Richardson and Biden in low single digits, and Dodd under 1% and withdrawing from the race. This was predicted as a close 3-way, and it was. It seems that, at least in lily-white Iowa, America's First Black PresidentTM proved a liability for America's First Woman PresidentTM, and may well help elect America's actual first Black President (not to mention the first President from my college-- and my college class no less)! Oprah, it seems, is every bit as popular as we think she is. That, and Barack is just so God damned likeable. Will everyone finally get off Al Gore's back, and realize that but for the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he would be the President now... not having Bill campaign for him was not a mistake. There, I said it.
I looked up the Wiki results for the 2004 caucuses, and it was most fascinating:
Kerry (37.4%) got around the same percentage Obama did, with Edwards virtually duplicating his 2004 performance (then 31.4%), with the remaining third or so split by Dean (around 18%) and Gephardt (around 10%). Anyway, New Hampshire is in five days, and Hillary has now gone from badly needing a win there to being in an almost must-win situation there, in short, the Howard Dean situation of 2004. Edwards needs Obama not to win there, otherwise, he will soon be lobbying Barack to be his veep candidate! And just as Barack strangled Hillary with her supposed "fundraising advantage", he is now 1-0 in a contest involving actual voters; IMHO, Hillary cannot let him go 2-0, now matter what super-duper Tuesday, or Florida or South Carolina polls show. Her entire appeal is based on her inevitability... that would seem to be a problem now.
On the Republican side, it's the darkest of dark-horses, yet another Arkansas governor (from Hope, AR, no less!), Mike Huckabee, with 34%, followed by Mitt Romney at 24%, Thompson and McCain tied at 13%, Ron Paul at 10% and National Frontrunner Rudy GiulianiTM... at a pathetic 3%. It seems that the voters in Iowa actually appreciated the fact that Baptist minister Huckabee might have sincere religious principles, rather than the usual Republican tendency to trot out "moral values" which would never ever meaning providing food, clothing, education or medical care to the poor if it meant not cutting capital gains taxes for the super-rich. In short, much as Democrats would rather run the Harvard, Yale or Chapel Hill law school grad against Huckabee, the folksy preacher whose answer to foreign policy questions is "I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night"... the Republicans would rather not run him, as unlike Hedge Fund Mitt, or Influence Peddler Rudy, or Hollywood Fred, or even I-sold-my-soul-for-this-nomination-damn-it-John... Huckabee cannot be trusted by the moneyed interests dominating the Grand Old Party to look out for the interests of the powerful.
Which takes us to New Hampshire. The folksy Southern governor isn't going to win there, however, if he finishes third or better there, it would be huge, and he may well win South Carolina, in which case, whoa Nelly going into super-duper Tuesday. Romney, who bet the farm on Iowa and New Hampshire to carry him, simply must win New Hampshire, period. Fred Thompson has to do third or better in New Hampshire, or at least "better than McCain". McCain has to do second or better, or at least "better than Romney". Ron Paul is the under-covered story of the year; his anti-war stance render him a threat to the powerful of the GOP as well, which is why Fox excluded him from its debate. And Rudy should, by rights, drop out but then, by rights, he shouldn't still be here. Look for a comparably disastrous finish for him in New Hampshire, then in South Carolina, and somehow that huge win in Florida ain't happening.
Let's just say that the Huckabee situation is more staggering even than the huge Barack story... outsiders (Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton) always have a chance among Democrats if they can appeal to voters; Republicans are about primogeniture... this is the first time since 1964 that there won't be a Bush, a Nixon or a Dole on the ticket... their candidates are not merely conservative but dynastic. The sincere, folksy, likeable Huckabee is the kind of candidate Democrats might go for... now watch the Republicans unify to shoot him down. There's no place for an actual "will of the voters" movement in the GOP. None. I'm sorry Governor, but you have nowhere to go. Huckabee's win in Iowa shakes up the field like nobody's business.
What a night! This has been... The triumph of hope (and Hope, AR) over "experience".