By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 4, 2008 2:50PM
Last night marked the official beginning of the 2008 presidential season. The close of the Iowa Democratic caucuses saw Barack Obama with 37 percent, John Edwards with 30 percent, and Hillary Clinton in third place with 29 percent of the votes, with 99 percent of Iowa precincts reporting. On the Republican side Mike Huckabee was the big winner.
In fact, last night was a night of few surprises. The big shockers coming out of the caucuses were not who got how many votes, but where they came from. For the Democrats, the big news was record turnout by both young voters and new voters, many of whom seemed inspired by Obama's message hope of national reconciliation. According to CNN, Obama took 57 percent of the under-30 vote. The skillful horse trading done by Obama beforehand helped, too. Although the campaign denied it, rumors that the Obama camp negotiated a deal with the Richardson camp seem to have been true.
For the GOP, still struggling to find their next Ronald Reagan, evangelicals carried Mike Huckabee to victory, beating Mitt Romney by nearly ten points. Huckabee, who was outspent by Romney, still has a tough road to travel in New Hampshire, where evangelical Christians don't have the political influence or the number of votes that they do in Iowa.
It's hard to see history when you are so close to it, but it's also too easy to read too much into the Iowa caucuses, which haven't traditionally called the winner of the party nominations. Although the field is narrower, the nomination is still in play. And the candidates that keep campaigning will have a say in the coming national debate. In 2004 John Edwards did well enough in the primaries that John Kerry was forced to choose him as his running mate, even though he didn't want to. And with the primaries so front-loaded this year, the media and the nation's attention will quickly shift to New Hampshire. Expect Hillary to quickly switch to Plan B while John Edwards tries to play his narrow second in Iowa to close in on Obama. Mitt Romney and John McCain will both be running hard in New Hampshire as well, where a win is hardly guaranteed for Huckabee.