Friday, January 4, 2008

Iowa Caucus Post-Mortem

by Chuck Browder

Barack Obama – Obviously a historic night for Obama with a first place 9% victory over the once inevitable candidate Hillary Clinton. Given four choices, 52 percent of Democratic caucus-goers said the most important personal quality was that a candidate “can bring about needed change,” and Obama won the initial preference of half of them, according to the entrance poll for the Associated Press and television networks. More than one in five Democratic caucus-goers was under age 30 – about twice as many as typically vote in early presidential nomination events – and 57 percent of them expressed initial preference for Obama. Only 10 percent of those younger voters backed Clinton, and 14 percent Edwards. Nearly six in ten Democratic voters were attending their first caucuses, and 41 percent of them backed Obama. Obama also edged out Clinton, vying to become the first female president, among female voters. Among Democratic caucus-goers 54 percent said they were liberal, and Obama did better among liberals than more moderate caucus-goers. As of now, the Real Clear Politics average has Obama down by 7% to Clinton in New Hampshire. It should be interesting to see what momentum he gets in the polls there from his momentous victory in Iowa.

Mike Huckabee – Maybe Huckabee’s supporters should change their signs from ‘I heart Huckabee’ to Seabiscuit. Outspent by Romney by a factor of sixteen to one, he beat expectations by many in his party, not to mention the crowd at The Weekly Standard. In the Republican contest, born-again or evangelical Christians comprised six in 10 Republican caucus-goers, and 46 percent of them favored Huckabee. More than a third of Republican caucus-goers said it matters a great deal to them that a candidate shares their religious beliefs, and 56 percent backed Huckabee. Given a choice among four personal attributes, 45 percent of GOP caucus-goers said it was most important that a candidate “shares my values,” and nearly half of them supported Huckabee. A third said it was most important that a candidate “says what he believes,” and Huckabee won 33 percent of them. Huckabee hit a home run tonight, but don’t expect him to repeat his performance in New Hampshire, where a Real Clear Politics average has him in fourth with 9.5%. Still, according to the Real Clear Politics averages, he is 1% behind Romney in Michigan, ahead by 6.5% in South Carolina, in second place in Florida, 2% behind Giuliani, and second place in California as well. Expect to see good things down the road after New Hampshire for Huckabee.

John Edwards – Outspent six to one by his opponents, Edwards managed to eke out a second place victory over Senator Clinton, which may be a major victory in itself. Edwards won 44 percent, of those who said the top priority is that a candidate “who cares about people like me,” but only one in five chose that attribute. Only 8 percent said it's most important that a candidate “has the best chance to win in November,” and Edwards fared best among them with 36 percent support. Edwards, who finished second in the 2004 Iowa caucuses, edged out Clinton and Obama among those who have caucused before. To capitalize on this, Edwards will need to place at least a strong third in New Hampshire and will need to do well in both Nevada and his original home-state and possible firewall, South Carolina. A Real Clear Politics average had Edwards in third with 18.5% in New Hampshire, which he may get a little more mileage out of after his second place finish in Iowa. He will need it in order to get back in the game for Nevada and South Carolina, both where he is currently a distant third. Though, it is possible that the Democratic Party is just now coming around to their former Vice Presidential candidate, or as I like to call him "the Democrats’ great white hope", since it finally has become apparent to boomers that Al Gore isn’t getting into the race.

John McCain – Very good night for McCain, as he finishes close with Thompson for third place despite his lack of campaigning in Iowa. With many of the pundits writing off Huckabee in New Hampshire and with Huckabee not expected to attack McCain, this may provide McCain with an opportunity to resurrect his campaign. A recent Real Clear Politics average now has McCain over Romney by 2.5%. Despite only capturing 10% of the evangelical vote in Iowa, McCain should fare better in the more secular New Hampshire race, where he won over President George W. Bush in 2000.


Mitt Romney –
Terrible night for Romney who was the initial front-runner here.
Highly organized and ten million dollars later, Romney only finds himself in a distant second place behind Huckabee. I suppose Mormon-backed corporations like American Express and Marriott, with all their money, can only polish a turd so much. In the Republican contest, born-again or evangelical Christians comprised six in 10 Republican caucus-goers; only 19 percent favored Mitt Romney, a Mormon who has been viewed skeptically by some religious conservatives. Romney won a little more than a third of voters who said the top priority was that a candidate “has the right experience.” Only 7 percent said the most important attribute was a candidate's electability, and half of them backed Romney. If Romney fails to perform well in New Hampshire, as former Governor of neighboring state Massachusetts, his campaign is most likely toast.

Hillary Clinton – A devastating loss, which the concerned Clintons have conducted damage control on for several weeks. Even more embarrassing for the Clintons is a third place loss to John Edwards, who they outspent by a factor of six to one. I suppose the top-down strategy that brought in the hard-hitters from her national campaign resulted in blowback in Iowa. Hillary Rodham Clinton won half of those who said it was most important that a candidate “has the right experience” – but only one in five said that. Only 10 percent of younger voters backed Clinton, although she won 45 percent of voters 65 or older, who made up a fifth of the Democratic electorate – double the share of seniors in Iowa's general population. While it looks bad for the Clintons now, don’t count them out, they play ball harder than anyone out there in politics.

Fred Thompson – ‘Lazy-like-a-fox-Fred’ may be done here. He initially announced that finishing with anything less than third place would mean the end of his campaign. With he and McCain closely competing for third in Iowa, both he and his campaign may be ready to throw in the towel. Serves him right, after all he initially stated publicly that if McCain were to run in 2008, he would stay out of the race. The only saving grace for the Thompson campaign is that rumor has it that if he packs it in before New Hampshire, the he is expected to back McCain. Maybe old Fred still has a soul; hard to believe it with all the time he spent in Hollywood. Maybe while he is at it he should congratulate Ron Paul.

Joe Biden – This is unfortunately the end of the road for Joe Biden, who has more legislative and national security experience than Edwards, Clinton, and Obama combined. Even more unfortunate for Biden now that his campaign is officially over is that his chances of being chosen as the vice presidential candidate for 2008 are even slimmer, due to the fact that Biden is a human gaff machine. I suppose this is retribution for calling Obama “clean and articulate”.

Chris Dodd – So long, we hardly knew you, seriously Chris who? Yes this is also the last stop for Dodd on the stump. Serves him right for pandering to the The Daily Kos crowd by sandbagging O’Reilly on the Factor the week before the Kos convention. A recent Quinnipiac University Poll shows 55% of those surveyed believe the state's senior senator is spending too much time on the campaign trail and not enough time serving as senator. Probably a good idea, since he had been tracking in the polls just behind dirt. At least the people of Connecticut will have their senator moving home soon (well, as soon as he gets to re-enroll his child in school there!). At the very least, it should get Lieberman off his case for a little while.

*The surveys were conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International as voters arrived at 40 sites each for Democratic and Republican caucuses in Iowa. The Democratic entrance poll interviewed 2,136 caucus-goers, the Republican survey 1,600. Each survey had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


Patty A said...

I'm heartened by Barack Obama's victory in Iowa. I believe this is a new beginning for America after the disastrous Bush years.

rohan said...

Back-up music is serious stuff for presidential candidates. At his last campaign hurrah in West Des Moines, Mitt Romney, the squeaky clean Mormon with millions in his bank account - even accounting for the huge sums he has spent on his presidential race - a country anthem about vanished diners in a small southern town. You just can't do enough to demonstrate your heartland credentials in Iowa.

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