The Iowa Caucus
Results and analysis
Article added on January 4, 2008 at 19:25 Swiss time; updated on January 5,
2008 at 09:13 Swiss time
The results of the Iowa Caucus of
January 3, 2008 are quite evident: Barack Obama is the clear winner of the
Iowa Democratic caucuses with 37.58% of a total of some 220,000 voters in
front of John Edwards with 29.75% and Hillary Clinton with 29.47%. Mike Huckabee is the clear winner of the Iowa Republican caucuses with 34% of
about 114,000 voters ahead of Mitt Romney with 25%, Fred Thompson and John McCain with 13%
each, Ron Paul with 10% and Rudy Giuliani, who did not
campaign in Iowa, with 4%.
Women and younger voters preferred Barack
Obama to Hillary Clinton, who could count on the older voters. Only about 3% of
Iowa voters are African American. Obama appeals to all
voters, not just Democrats. America seems to be ready for an African American candidate.
Furthermore, unlike Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama appealed to many
independent voters in Iowa. Unlike Clinton, he is a fresh face. Obama's weak
point remains the substance. Or as one commentator once put it:
In Iowa, the Clinton campaign faltered at the very end in favor of Obama.
Bill Clinton never had a chance to win in Iowa in 1992, but that didn't
prevent him from winning the nomination and the presidency.
Psychologically, it may be a shock to have clearly lost to Obama after
having led the polls almost all the way. Still, the fight between Obama and
Clinton is far from over yet.
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More damaging is the Clinton legacy. In the memory of too many people, the
Clinton years seem a rosy period of prosperity and reasonable foreign
policy. In reality, after two years in office, his presidency was at a low
point. Because of the new Republican majority in Congress, he re-centered
his policies. But his foreign policy remained a disaster zone. Somalia,
Rwanda, Israel-Palestine, North Korea and Iraq - to name a few which come to
my mind spontaneously - were blunders. Only because of George W.
Bush's incompetent handling of the Iraq war do people forget that Bill Clinton
was incompetent, too. Hillary is not Bill. But she refers to often to an
inexistent brilliant record of her husband.
Democrats in Iowa are more on the left than the
“average” Democrat. Therefore, John Edwards' performance is disappointing,
especially considering the resources and time he spent. Edwards has not yet lost his presidential bid, but his campaign missed the
chance to gain momentum. Iowa had always been his primary focus, and he only
finished as a distanced second. For him, New Hampshire next week might
already be the last chance to maintain himself as the third serious
His left-wing, populist rhetoric may have been helpful in Iowa, but in most
other states the Democrats are not as far left-leaning as they are in Iowa. The two
$400 haircuts by a Beverly Hills
stylist - paid for with campaign money -
will resurface every now and then and remind voters of the limited
credibility of the
On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee will never again find such a strong
Evangelical state on his road to the White House. It is still unlikely for
him to earn the
Republican nomination and even less likely that he could win the November
election; he would be the ideal candidate for the Democrats to beat.
The Baptist minister seems unfit to lead the country's international
Like Edwards on the Democratic side, Mitt Romney poured an enormous amount of time and money
into his Iowa campaign, but only finished a distanced second in the
Republican caucus. This is a
serious blow to his campaign. Luckily, although money is crucial, it cannot
buy an election.
On the Democratic side, only three serious contenders are left: Clinton,
Obama and Edwards. On the Republican side, the field is more open: Huckabee
(although unlikely to win the nomination), Romney, Giuliani and McCain.
Thompson is too weak a candidate. Huckabee takes away right-wing support for
Romney and Thompson, who is a weak candidate.
A good way to make up your own mind about a candidate is C-SPAN. The TV
channel offers long online clips of candidates on the campaign trail. Rudy
Giuliani makes an excellent impression. He is natural, seems to believe in
what he is talking about and has good arguments on his side. If only he
distanced himself from torture as an option in the war against terror, he
would be one of the best candidates to vote for, not only for Republicans.
The other credible candidate is John McCain. He stood by the intervention in
Iraq, while denouncing its errors - including torture and the lack of troops
- with a clear vision. I am puzzled by too
many requests to reduce the number of troops in Iraq. If 30,000 more troops
had a positive impact, then they shouldn't be reduced this
year, but rather increased by another 30,000 until peace is
re-established and Iraqi troops can take over. McCain's problem is that he
looks pretty stiff - probably because of the damage he suffered as a
prisoner of war in Vietnam - and that he concentrates too much on Iraq. The
“war against terror” surely is one of the key problems a president will face,
but not the only one. Obama offers a positive vision of
“change”, whatever those very vague ideas mean, whereas McCain concentrates on
the negative sides of the present situation.
Last but not least, let's not forget one undeclared candidate who could make
a difference: New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg may well run as an
independent. He has an excellent record and could count on a bipartisan
support. He also has the resources to finance his campaign from his own
pocket. This may well be his Achilles' heel: do American voters appreciate a
billionaire candidate who can single-handedly
“buy” the presidency?