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An Earthquake in the Midwest

By David Broder
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Eight years after Iowa voters did the conventional -- sending George W. Bush and Al Gore on to meet in the election of 2000, they shook up the status quo in both parties as never before.

The victories of Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee jolted the expectations of establishment candidates with far stronger conventional credentials.

Neither victory was nationally determinative, but early favorites Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mitt Romney were badly damaged by the Iowa results and may have a hard time recovering.

Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a favorite of Christian conservatives who dominated the Republican turnout in Iowa, still faces a formidable challenge from Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is now the favorite in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.

New Hampshire also becomes a critical test for Clinton, who cannot afford another early loss to Obama.
Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina faces financial and political hurdles in New Hampshire and South Carolina, though he won the latter state in 2004.

Obama has now demonstrated his ability not only to defeat the former first lady and spouse of the country's number one Democrat, but to overcome the boundaries of racial and generational politics.

Barely two years removed from the obscurity of an Illinois legislative seat, he has established himself as a unique political phenomenon. His appeal is both rhetorical and organizational. He not only drew overflow audiences with his idealistic speeches but has recruited hundreds of volunteers to drive them to the caucuses in record numbers.
For Democratic candidates and office holders, Obama holds out the potential of bringing strength to the top of the ticket that they have not seen for many election cycles.

Huckabee has yet to demonstrate similarly broad appeal on the Republican side. New Hampshire, with relatively few of the religious voters, may prove a difficult test for Huckabee. But South Carolina can be decisive for Republicans on January 19th -- a place where both McCain and Huckabee have strength. McCain is helped by Romney's loss to Huckabee, and the former Massachusetts governor -- who had gambled everything on winning both Iowa and the New Hampshire -- now could find himself losing both.

Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani are both hoping for better days. But they may have a long time to wait.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 4, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama , David Broder , Mike Huckabee , The Democrats , The GOP  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama Cites Turnout in His 'Good Night'
Next: Clinton Team Retools For N.H.


don't know about the rest of you, but I've had enough of the bushes and the clintons!!!!!!!!

Posted by: woodyduce | January 9, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

There is one fact to recommend a monarchy. You only have to remove one person, and hope that their next of kin understands the reason for the change. In America, both parties work to prevent change. Essentially it comes down to (to paraphrase Mel Brooks from Blazing Saddles) "Gentlemen; we've got to protect our phoney baloney jobs"!

Posted by: edweirdness | January 7, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The country is looking for change and they are tired of Bush's war in Iraq that did nothing but create more pools of radical islamic extremists for terrorist organizations to recruit from and did little but to cause the price of oil to go way up, and further destabilize the Middle East. His war to remove Saddam from power and the need for us to remain there for years to maintain order is indicative of a total lack of understanding of the sociology behind how a lot of these middle eastern countries work and how it affects their political structure. Trying to install a democracy in Iraq is like trying to hold a rubber ball full of air at the bottom of a 12 foot pool of water without removing the air from the ball. We are in a no win situation because we can't change the social structure of Iraq and we can't force them to adopt the democratic principles that we have developed over more than 200 years in just a short period of time.

Posted by: mrgwr38 | January 7, 2008 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Well, American friends all, I think that this blog has been wonderful. It should be published as a short book on your political system. I feel that I ought to come clean in that the questions I asked were not quite as naive as they seemed, I wanted to read how a diverse selection of informed US opinion thinks and I got that and also a reasoned explanation of how the system works. (I'm not a journalist, by the way, just an old bloke who still reads newspapers). I'm not sure that you would have got as good an account of us from our side.
I don't really think that the American system is any more weird than ours - both sides of the Atlantic have quirks which seem to suit the locals but can look funny to outsiders. (I must admit to doubts about the electoral college but then we pick our Prime Minister as the, effective, majority leader in Parliament - a majority often elected on a minority of the popular vote). Moreover, why for instance do we stick with a powerless monarchy as a figurehead clearly out of date in the 21st Century - well I suppose the tourists like the show and even in Australia, a fiercely independant country which really ought to be a republic, they had a referendum and kept the idea, which many of us thought unbelievable.
Thank you again for your patience. Now to print out the lot and read it properly!

Posted by: braddem | January 6, 2008 6:57 AM | Report abuse

I think the caucuses are ridiculous. Good people become eliminated only because Iowa, the first example, says so. Is this fair? Anyone who wants to run for this office should have an equal chance if they have the qualifications, which does not include how much they have in the bank. One of our finest presidents was very poor.......Abraham Lincoln. The salary and enormous perks, even after their presidency, do not make any man poor. I think the caucus system stinks. What make anyone think that Iowa, a state of farmers, exceptions, of course, know more than anyone else. One of the finest men to run for president will not continue since this caucus. I'm saddened and irked.

Posted by: janetb1 | January 5, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

To britbiker9:
Thanks for the response. Just a reminder, you might try doing a little more research on the issue you respond to.

70% of US citizens of age are registered to vote. 64% voted in the 2004 Presidential race. Far fewer vote in regional elections, where the results have immediate local impact. In Australia, which has compulsory voting, participation reaches 95%.

Huckabee, Obama, and Guiliani are not exactly middle class Americans. However the point is moot because they have not been elected President yet, and very likely will not reach the Oval Office. A very rich person will get the office, they always do!
The correct spelling is Supreme Court, and they had no constitutional right to do what they did in the 2000 Election. One of the justices, GOP-appointed Clarence Thomas, has not asked a single question in months.

As for the voting machines, check out the front page of the New York Times today.

Typically right-wing Republicans are accused of drinking Kool-Aid and starting illegal wars for oil. Democrats are just as corrupt. Those are just some of U.S. problems with a two-party system and unlimited spending on political advertising.

Watch out riding that motorcycle, insurance statistics show a 100% chance of motorcycle riders having an accident every 2 years.

Posted by: thw2001 | January 5, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

To thw and others:

First time reading blogs, sorry, but what nonsense ! THW says get rid of electoral college ? Without it, small states like Iowa and new hampshire would have no power !
All of the Florida voting machines with "problems" were in democratic districts controlled by democrats. Still don't get the outcome you want? Blame the republicans !
Citizens don't vote because of public schools and the breakdown of the family?
The teacher's unions control the democratic party. The republicans want vouchers. Freedom , what a concept! Family breakdown? Thank the liberal democrats of the sixties and seventies.
Tuesday elections a conspiracy to keep the working people away from voting? Funny, I worked 27 years blue-collar, never missed a vote. Our parents worked longer hours, they had no problem voting. Solution...
turn off the TV and get your lazy ass out there, unless you're ignorant, in which case please don't vote ... have another beer.
Only rich people and their friends can get elected? First off,not true.( Huckabee, Obama, Guiliani to name a few). But McCain-Feingold bill allows billionaires to run and does make it tough for the little guy.

Sumpreme Court sold out for big oil? No, they followed the legal voting rules for Florida, which the democratic PARTISAN Florida State Supreme Court did not. Had they done their job,ie. follow the legal procedure and laws of the state the Supreme Court would not have had to weigh in.I find it depressing that so many of you are filled with hate and don't really know the facts.

Stop drinking the kool-aid.Please.

Posted by: britbiker9 | January 5, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Mugrad01 said "And as for Huckabee, he may be the best leader for men but there is absolutely no way he would be for women" No kidding.

I wonder how many women of any stripe realize he completely endorsed the SBC statement; "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

And he might be the leader for 52% of the US that are female?

Posted by: alldemocrat | January 5, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

This is really interesting to follow. I, a swedish citizen has followed the primary quite reguraly the last months. I have to say that I am disapointed by the media coverage. It´s all Obama-Clinton, nothing about the unionfriendly Edwards.

I will not take the chanse to write what I dislike with the american election system in general, that would take to much time... Mainly because your country is a federation, that makes things a bit more difficult then "unitystates" (direct translation from Swedish) as the scandinavian states. The idea that every vote doesn´t count, that the winner takes all elektorates aren´t very nice. (I know that a few small states don´t have that system)

Another thing that I really dislike is that registration part. Combined with having the election on a tuesday- it is a good way to keep working people of the election. In Sweden we do the elections on sundays. And I also am offended that x-criminals don´t are alowed to vote. They served their time, hasn´t they? Good Oregon!

By the way, I think that the hard-critizised Iowa caucus has a good point: That you can show where you really stand first, go to your favourite; let´s say Dennis K., and then you go to the second best; let´s say Edwards. In other states you really don´t know what people stand, because they need to deside if it is worth to vote on their candidate, or if they schould vote on the second best instead. If you have the state by state voting, I think you schould have some rule about that the winner must get 50% of the votes. To have a second round or something. What I have understanded is there some of a ABC-factor in this election. "Anyone but Clinton". That could become a problem, let´s say that Obama get´s 30%, Edwards 30% and Clinton 40%. Then Clinton get´s the votes, BUT noone really knows if a majority preferes her.

The same in the general election. In France they have two rounds, wich make it possible for smaller candidates and parties to register their support in the first round. Then in the second round they can vote for the second best choice. That would improve the democracy- people can vote for ex. the green and not being afraid of indirect supporting the republicans.

Sorry for a long text and if it sounded like I was negative versus your system, but I really think it could use some improvement. The american election means a lot for all of the world.

Posted by: wallgren.mikael | January 5, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

To LarkinGMead- If you think Huckabee is going to be good for the middle class think again, His "get rid of the IRS and start a nationwide sales tax" is the most regressive tax system possible that will totally benefit the richest of us (just like the Cheney presidency has)and sock it to the poor and middle class.

Posted by: alldemocrat | January 5, 2008 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Actually Iowa and Colorado are not the only two caucus states, Texas has both a Primary Election and caucuses (at our party conventions). We are the only state that does both.

Posted by: alldemocrat | January 5, 2008 7:25 AM | Report abuse

In his last piece, Broder told his readers to look to NH. Now he tells us that the Iowa results were "an earthquake".
Make up your mind. Is Iowa relevant or not?

Broder is one of my least favorite columnists.

Posted by: kingsbridge77 | January 5, 2008 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Edwards did not just beat Clinton. He soundly beat every Republican. The number of Iowans who caucused for Edwards was almost double the number that caucused for Huckabee:

The big loser was the Republican party, and the big winner was the United States of America.

Posted by: jrundle | January 5, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

"Black People are in for a rude awakening if they think this country would ever elect a Black man for president!

Posted by: ssmithbrnx | January 4, 2008 11:37 PM"

Spoken like a true-believing KKK member.

And who is/was your first choice, ssmithbrnx? David Duke??

Posted by: critter69 | January 5, 2008 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Black People are in for a rude awakening if
they think this country would ever elect a
Black man for president!

Posted by: ssmithbrnx | January 4, 2008 11:37 PM | Report abuse

I was at a precinct caucus on Thursday night and spoke to friends about others they attended. A pattern emerged: Obama's supporters included many caucus "chairs," who often bent or ignored caucus rules to favor Obama -- and were not bashful about it at all. Obama supporters have a lot of enthusiasm about "hope," "unity," and "change," but little in the way of how that will be achieved except for everyone else joining them. The word, "proselytize," with all the religious connotations, is appropriate. Obama's disciples persuaded with plenty of hyperbolic (and offensive) negatives, including suggestions that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer meant that John Edwards would not be able to govern "after she died" and that doctors everywhere engaged in defensive medicine because of John Edwards. From what I saw, the "Cumbayah" candidate's supporters take power the old-fashioned way: by any means necessary. Obama niceties are for the press and TV audiences.

Posted by: upstate111 | January 4, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

We have not forgotten your statements from the day before: Iowa does not matter!!! Can you really pretend you are excited by this? How can I take you seriously?

Posted by: RegisUrgel | January 4, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

cwlund wrote:
"Will someone please tell me why with the voter numbers shown by the Iowa caucuses Iowa is seen by most pundits as a "Red" state."

The primary numbers are very deceptive. It's the November numbers for President that can define a state as "Red" or "Blue". Maybe the following will help illustrate:

Truman - 50.31% (of popular vote)
Dewey - 47.58

Eisenhower - 63.75%
Stevenson - 35.59

Eisenhower - 59.06%
Stevenson - 40.65

Nixon - 56.71%
Kennedy - 43.22

Johnson - 61.88%
Goldwater - 37.92

Nixon - 53.01%
Humphrey - 40.82

Nixon - 57.61%
McGovern - 40.48

Ford - 49.47%
Carter - 48.46

Reagan - 51.31%
Carter - 38.60

Reagan - 53.27%
Mondale - 45.89

Dukakis - 54.71%
Bush - 44.50

Clinton - 43.29%
Bush - 37.27

Clinton - 50.26%
Dole - 39.92

Gore - 48.54%
Bush - 48.22

Bush - 49.90%
Kerry - 49.23

In the past 15 elections, the Republican candidate has won Iowa 9 times in November, the Democrat has won 6 times, although the Democratic candidate has won 4 of the last 5.

Iowa probably is not a 'Red state', but it most definitely is not a 'Blue state' (more of a purple state, especially considering how tight the 2000 and 2004 races were.

Posted by: critter69 | January 4, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

To Mr. Neocon aljacobs: Your racist remarks concerning Barack Obama's chances in the South are an embarrasment. Who thinks that white supremacists will vote for him anyway?? The Ku Klux Klan will vote Republican, as expected.

Posted by: markshepherdstown | January 4, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

I have read many of the comments posted here. I am impressed with many of them. However, I have an observation. I believe that Americans are going to be faced with one of three choices. Choice number one, a Republican. Choice number two, a Black man. Choice number three, Hillary Clinton. Based on those three choices, I believe America will choose the Republican,(God, please make me wrong), no matter who he is, or how less qualified he is. Unfortunately, for America, we will not vote for a Black president, no matter what positive qualities he brings to the presidency. We will not vote for Hillary because she appears to be devisive and a bit wishy-washy. Thus, America will vote for a Republican, even though the Republican party has wrecked our country, our economy, our way of life, our prestige overseas, sent our young men and women off to a war on false pretenses, etc., over the last eight years. It will take our country many years to overcome the damage done by Republicans who controlled the White House, and most of Congress for most of those eight years. However, most Americans will choose another Republican because in their minds, a Republican would be the "lesser of evils." Why, vote for a Black man...never! God, help America.

Posted by: jhouse1 | January 4, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Our electoral system defies explanation and is irrational to the core, as a result idiots and freaks sometimes get through. That's why we pay people like you, David Broder, to explain it to us. Thanks for making it sound meaningful. I'm a liberal Democrat, scratch me and I bleed Democrat blue, but I really like Mike Huckabee; that makes him dangerous but I'm not worried because the Republicans have already got their long knives out.

Posted by: geraldsutliff1 | January 4, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Will someone please tell me why with the voter numbers shown by the Iowa caucuses Iowa is seen by most pundits as a "Red" state. Regards, Carl W. Lundquist, JD, Colonel, Army of the United States (Retired)..... Boston

Posted by: cwlund | January 4, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

1. "Clinton concedes"
Ah, yes, but do the MSM concede? Not in this lifetime.

2. "Obama proves doubters wrong"
But does Obama prove the MSM wrong? Yes. A child could do it.

3. "Conventional wisdom defied"
Is it in fact the Washington Post's wisdom which has been defied - a wisdom actually no more conventional than the mere desire to be conventional? Absolutely.

4. Has the MSM's shameless in cow-towing to its corporate bosses left it with egg and several other things all over its face? Oh yes. Give it a few more weeks and they will be telling us that Bush is a favorite to run for a third term, and that the Constitution will be amended to let him do so.


Clinton was never in the running. She is exactly what those voters in November 2006 said was no longer acceptable: Secretive, arrogant, and with a warmongering voting record. Can't the MSM read?

In spite of the MSM trying to make a big issue out of Obama's lack of experience, Edwards, like Clinton, shows a far more serious lack of courage in failing to give the firm NO, which those voters wanted, to the current regime on the Iraq issue.

This leaves Obama as the man out of the usual social drinking circuit; "Mr. Nice Guy getting his chance to prove you don't have to be an embittered former frat boy with mafia- and big-corporation connections in order to interest decent American voters in your leadership qualities. And let's not forget that SEEMING to be a decent man, who listens to others who are wiser than you, can sometimes be the result of the fact that you ARE a decent man, who listens to others who are wiser than you.

If the reports of his youthful drug use are true, then we must be aware that there were those things in his character which made him subject to bad influence and temptation. These are never good things in a president, and we should not be forgiving if there is the slightest sign that he has not learned from experience, or that he permanently damaged his brain or powers of judgement during that time. After all, we have some experience of the consequences of that right now, don't we?

Otherwise, I say, good luck to him. He looks like he can learn from the school of life, unlike some others we could all name.

Posted by: wardropper | January 4, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

This video really encapsulates what happened in Iowa last night. Have a look and please comment.

Posted by: gevans33 | January 4, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

McCain, Heckabee, Hillary, Obama & the rest of the Democrats, plus Liberal Media and the rest of the open Border pro-illegal Aliens supporters professed & false compassion for Illegal Aliens is sicking. This Nation has 47 millions citizens without medical insurance, Million of our elderly chose between food and medicine every day. Millions of American children live in poverty with no chance at the American dream. Our vets. return from the war that came about by lies from Politicians without proper medical care or treatment. Yet they shower rewards on the Illegal Aliens, free medical, free schooling for their many children, no reward is too great or price to high for the American citizens to pay, for the ones that break our laws, invaded this country and demand their rights while waving the Mexican flag and Slaughtering, Raping and Robbing thousands of American Citizens each year.

The Corrupt Politicians and Liberal Media try to get the public to believe they are Compassion, & Wise for wanting open borders and amnesty. While American Citizens are racist & xenophobe if we request that our Constitution and Immigration laws be followed and enforced for all law breakers irregardless of race or nationally!

It is the money they get from business from supplying them slave labor with 20K worth of benefits paid each year by the tax payers and the Latino votes with the promise of millions more if we give them amnesty that they are really after.

If they really are Compassion and Caring there are Millions of American Citizens that have played by
the rules, payed their taxes, obeyed the laws, fought the wars and built this Nation that are in great need. The Politicians could use American Citizens to show their Compassion. But Compassion for American citizens or legal Immigrants does not get Money and Votes for our Corrupt lying Politicians.

Posted by: american1 | January 4, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I do hope you're right Sheridan - the prospect of Bush-Lite embodied by Mitt Romney worries me a great deal. However, John McCain for foreign policy experience coupled to Mike Huckabee's evangelical credentials might just pull it off, particularly if there's another Clinton heading the Dem's ticket.

Posted by: clare_d_loon | January 4, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

In Spite of the soaring rhetoric and promises from our Presidential Candidates this Nation faces it most perilous times since WWII. Most of the Candidates are refusing to recognize or address problems that in time will destroy this nation!

We have an arrogant, incompetent, illiterate, and inept fool in the White House, a demoralized and decimated military, plundered treasury, trashed world standing, trampled rule of Law and Constitution. While the nation is sinking under an tidal wave of Uneducated Illegal Aliens waving the Mexican flag, demanding their rights, while feasting at the trough of Public Welfare, as they Kill, Rob, and Rape thousands of American Citizens each year. .

We as a nation can survive fools in our White House. What we CANNOT survive is fools both in our Congress and white house like Bush, McCain, Hillary, Obama, Kennedy, Reid, etc. & now they want to be President! Each promising a new American, rebuilding the middle class and taking care of the poor. But what they refuse to acknowledge or recognize is no single Nation or people is rich enough to lift the 100,s of millions of poor out of poverty. In others words American & American taxpayers cannot bear the cost of becoming the welfare state for Mexico and Latin American. To attempt to do so will only reduce all Americans to poverty equaling what the uneducated invaders are fleeing from in their home countries. The poor and criminals pouring across our Borders have an average of an six grade education. Each person with less than a high education is a net cost of 20k per year for American taxpayers. This applies to American citizens as well as the millions of Illegal Aliens. So the displaced compassion endorsed by Edwards, Obama, McCain, Hillary etc. is deeply flawed. Failure to close our border or to give Amnesty to the 12 to 30 millions of Illegal Aliens in this country will in the long run, with the Chain Immigration result in adding 100 to 160 millions poor citizens to our welfare rolls. Their high school drop out rates exceed 50 percent with a high crime rate and a very high illegitimate birth rate, the very combination that keeps Mexico & Latin American a cesspool of poverty & misery!

Maybe the results is what the multinational companies and the rich dream of, a Nation full of poor docile labors like China, India, Mexico so the rich can live like the kings of old and the rest can live like the peons in Mexico that are pouring across our borders, but I do not believe it is the future most Americans aspire to for their children and grand children!

In all, my country, a potential benefactor and beacon for all the world - is headed right off a cliff and to an third world status!

If the Politicians with the Citizens support, decide they must do more for the worlds poor then they must find a way like an Marshall plan for Latin American. What they must not be allowed to do, though flawed logic or by criminal intent is to turn this Nation into a Cesspool of Crime, Corruption, Poverty, and Misery by continuing the open borders policy and Amnesty for the millions pouring across our borders.

In my view - and in the view of many educated thinking Americans - this has all come to pass because the Politicians, the elected and sworn stewards of this country, have allowed it to happen. Surely they should have known better...when they refused to abide by the Constitution against invasion or enforce our laws they disgraced their oath of office. One way this Nation can start to recover is for the lot of them to be gone from those hallowed halls of Congress and the White House, because most of them have become a house of party-bound prostitutes paid by the special interests, swirling and partying, amidst the rubble of their own malfeasance - taking this Nation right down with them.

As a proud and concerned American that proudly served my Country in time of War as did my Father, my two brothers and my son. I am appalled and very angry at what self severing, stupid/corrupt politicians have done to my country!

Posted by: american1 | January 4, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Should not this column have come with an FEC authority line--Authorized and paid for by Hedge Fund Execs For Bloomberg.

Billion Dollar Mike would be the top beneficiary if these Iowa-anointed front-runners both receive their party nominations.

The author needs to overcome his crush on Sen. Obama. Whatever his relative personal merits or demerits it appears he is a sacrificial lamb for the Hedge Fund set--which is a sad and dangerous place to be.

Posted by: bjerryberg | January 4, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Braddem of the UK: Here's the deal: everybody in the USA is elligible to vote too (except felons). There are no tests. All one has to do is register and prove that you have lived in the state for about a month. Remember, these caucuses and primaries are not electing anyone to the White House, they are electing delegates to each political party's convention. The candidates want to represent their political parties in the election in November '08. Hardly anyone votes in these because they are just party nominations. Most Americans are too busy paying the rent or raising their kids to take the time to get to know every wanabe president. They start paying attention in September of the election year. The voter turn out will be much higher for the actual election in November between the nominees of the Democrats and the Republicans. Thanks for asking.

Posted by: tomliddy | January 4, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Braddem of the UK: Here's the deal: everybody in the USA is elligible to vote too (except felons). There are no tests. All one has to do is register and prove that you have lived in the state for about a month. Remember, these caucuses and primaries are not electing anyone to the White House, they are electing delegates to each political party's convention. The candidates want to represent their political parties in the election in November '08. Hardly anyone votes in these because they are just party nominations. Most Americans are too busy paying the rent or raising their kids to take the time to get to know every wanabe president. They start paying attention in September of the election year. The voter turn out will be much higher for the actual election in November between the nominees of the Democrats and the Republicans. Thanks for asking.

Posted by: tomliddy | January 4, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Several things seem to be made clear by the Iowa caucuses, but some may have become more muddy. In the "clear" category is the confirmation that the U. S. seems able to weigh a candidate by merit and integrity rather than by color. Also in the "clear" column is that caucusers drawn toward Democratic candidates were responding to concerns about large practical challenges while the Republican caucuses were more about emotion and fear. Muddier, however, is just what the "average" voter understands of the nature of the problems our country faces.

In the days and hours ahead of the opening of the caucuses last night, any number of reporters interviewed potential participants. The question, "Who do you favor/support?" often resulted in an "I'm not decided yet" response. What does that mean? The problems of 1984-like "endless war", diminution of jobs and wages, strong signs of more rapid global warming than already feared, a faltering "consumption" economy, and more have been evident for at least a full year. Signs that several of the field of candidates have been complicit in supporting and even defending a (to use as polite a word as possible) delinquent federal executive are everywhere.

What appears sure is that for the most part, Democratic candidates and their supporters and those with minds open enough to actually hear them propose to address the issues we face as a nation. And just as surely, the Republican candidates and their supporters and interested others are going to be willing to gloss over the errors of the past 8 years and instead vote for matters that are not public concerns. Still, if there is to be any prospect of resolution for serious challenges to our nation, there must be some agreement on what are the real concerns for this United States.

The bitterness in the "conversations" of commentary like this indicate that we as a people are having great difficulty in discerning truth. However, it will serve us all to remember that in any argument while there may be many opinions, many solutions to a perceived problem or set of problems, underneath the issues there rests but one truth. If we seek truth, we might have a better chance of forming reasonable stances on which to base solutions.

Posted by: Jazzman7 | January 4, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Many thoughtful and mostly informed opinions concerning the Iowa results. Considering the political crap that has been loaded on our heads for the past seven years, a change agent in the White House is vital to our future. However, the American voters must recognize that positive change will only result if they also fill the Congress with change agents, no matter what party they belong to. Good luck to us all and save our Constitution. - From a former resident of the D.C. area where noone thinks outside the box.

Posted by: wkwj1945 | January 4, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Spectator wrote:
"Electoral peculiarities such as Iowa, New Hampshire suggest to me a legacy from 18th-19th century efforts to insure the continuation of Slavery through states' rights, and disproportionate representation given less populous states.

"(I invite someone with a history background to rebut me.)"

Since the Iowa caucus process was first used in 1972, I would hardly call that a "legacy [of the] 18th-19th century".

As for New Hampshire, primaries were almost totally unknown until the 1930s (New Hampshire's was the first in 1918), and it wasn't until about the 1960s that a majority of states, and also a majority of the electorate, had primaries for the party's Presidential candidate. Remember hearing about the 'smoke-filled rooms' where the candidate was selected? It wasn't just at the party's national convention where those 'smoke-filled rooms' were located - it was in the state capitals and large cities where the party big-wigs chose the delegates to the national conventions, choosing delegates faithful to the local party big-wigs choice for candidate.

You might also look at the Wikipedia article on Presidential primaries to learn more about their history. At Wikipedia, do a search for "United States presidential primary". You might find out that in the 1960s, less than 1/3 of the states had a primary, and less than 1/2 had ever experimented with one by that time - the high point to that time was about 20 states in the 1920s.

Posted by: critter69 | January 4, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I think that the really telling number is that the number of Democrats who showed up to caucus this year was 89% more than last year, while the number of Republicans who showed up only increased by 28%...

Posted by: RussellH1 | January 4, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Good article and as usual good coverage by the Post.

I just had to say how impressed I was at the thoughtful answers, that were mostly right, to the questions on here. Usually I don't read the comments because they are full of immature drivel, but I read through a lot of these.

I also really liked the ABC comment, anyone but Clinton. That sums me up perfectly. And just in case anyone is wondering I'm a 28-year-old, well-educated, well-employed woman who would love nothing better than to see a woman president AS LONG AS IT ISN'T HILLARY, as would pretty much everyone I know (including very serious Democrats).

And as for Huckabee, he may be the best leader for men but there is absolutely no way he would be for women. If people are just going off his awww shucks performance with the guitar they need to wake up to his scary politics that are incredibly intertwined with his religious views and really see who they'd be getting. We don't need rights tampered with any more than they already have been. I hope, and yes pray, that the rest of the country has more sense and takes more into account than religion when going to the primaries.

Posted by: mugrad01 | January 4, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

sherrlj - you call us "simple fools" and predict a Republican win, notating that McCain hardly campaigned in Iowa.

But you don't get it. A Republican CANNOT win the general election. No one in the current field represents the Republican base. McCain comes close, but do you really believe at this time when people are craving change that McCain can convince them that he is the right leader for this country??

Frankel - I live in California too. I have been an executive recruiter for 15 years - otherwise known as a "headhunter." One thing I have learned is that a resume can only show you on paper what a person does for a living and HAS done in the past.
But if there are 2 or 3 candidates equally qualified on paper, who will get the job?

This is where authenticity and "likeability" will always win the day.

Iowa means little in the case of Huckabee - if 60% of Republican caucus goers are Evangelicals, then you won't see a reflection of the rest of the country. But for Obama it means a great deal!

Obama is unlike any candidate before him - the closest comparison is RFK. I heard more comentators mention that last night than I can count. Howard Fineman, after Obama's accpetance speech said "He's a phenomonen - he just is."

And he is. FOr those of us who get it, last night just confirmed our hope that the young voters WILL come out for the right candidate.

All of you cynics, go listen to Obama's acceptance speech. If you aren't moved by this, then we deserve Guliani.

Posted by: sheridan1 | January 4, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't get carried away with all the talk about "hope for a new day." What we are getting from Obama are platitudes, not depth and certainly not a track record. What is appealing about him and what might generate long-term momentum (as opposed to say, Howard Dean) is that his message is not based on opposition to something. Democrats at-large would do well to pay attention.

Posted by: ellisconsulting | January 4, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Just watching Broder eat crow, while he was pontificating on how UNIMPORTANT Iowa was, a few days ago, gives me great satisfaction.

Broder and his pundit buddies were completely WRONG, again.

George Will is probably in rehab because Guilliani is toast.

Mary Matalin's Fred Thompson is a nothing.

Watch for the RNC and the punditocracy to trash Huckabee in order to promote John McCain.

Poor ole Broder. Completely out of touch. Never even saw it coming.

Posted by: auntmo9990 | January 4, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Joe Biden did not lose last night in Iowa, America did. People get carried away by wobbly and slippery likes of Obama, who keeps reminding his 20/20 hind sight vision. Obama, failed to vote in senate on most crucial bills affecting this nation and its people. This country cannot afford another president who pays lip service and and would say anything to be elected. John Edwards speaks from his heart and unlike Obama, he means what he says.
So people, young and the old, wake up and put this media spin heads to rest and look to who comes out sincere. I think it is John Edwards.

Posted by: ramu1 | January 4, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Joe Biden didn't lose last night. America did.

Posted by: soonerthought | January 4, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I would agree with Aljacobs only the Black population in the South is far greater than Non-Hispanic White. Around 30% more in fact. Let's hope he can inspire a huge turn out that will leave all the red-necks in the dust...but I doubt the black vote will be counted accurately.

Posted by: dorklord | January 4, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Obama would be a disaster for the Dems in the South for obvious reasons - a black man with a Muslim name. And for those who would dismiss the South, pls recall that no one has been elected President who cannot carry most or all of the states of the South - including Al Gore who couldn't carry his home state of TN. There are no Democratic governors, legislatures or local Democratic political machinery left down here. A Democratic candidate like Obama cannot even come into the Southern states because the party machinery to support such an effort doesn't exist.

And to our Brit cousin - these days the candidate that is perceived to be the stronger on national defense will be the winner.

Posted by: aljacobs | January 4, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Funny that David Broder writes that Obama is "barely two years" from the Ill. legislature. He was actually elected in 2004 and sworn into office in Jan 2005. How do we get barely two years? Conventional wisdom at its finest, as is always the case with Broder. Perception is always more important than the facts.

True, also, as several have pointed out, with the lack of mention of Edwards. Obama beats Clinton is the headline. You have to read a few paragraphs to realize Edwards was in between!!

Posted by: ff3003 | January 4, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Y'all have confused poor Braddem no end. How's this:

The main differences between your (parliamentary) system and ours are that we directly elect the head of the government (instead of electing a representative of a party which chooses its leader), and that each state has control (to a certain extent) of its electoral system, and many states leave the primaries (when the parties choose their candidates) to the parties to regulate.

I think the latter difference is what's confusing you. Some states require people to register in a particular party, and limit the vote in that party's primary to people registered in that party. Other states allow registration by party OR registration as an independent who can pick a party primary to vote in. Some states do not have party registration at all, and allow any registered voter to pick a primary every time there is a primary election. Some states have caucuses, which are like town meetings, instead of primary elections.

In the same way, anyone who is 18 can generally register and vote, but each state has different regulations on registering to vote. Some states require that a person be registered at least 30 days before the election. Others allow registration on the spot. Some allow convicted felons to vote, or vote after they finish their sentences. Others don't allow them to vote at all, ever again, or allow them to vote only with the governor's permission.

Iowa has a caucus system. But each party has different caucus regulations. Democrats have a complicated system where a candidate has to have support from 15% of those who show up; if a candidate has less than 15%, supporters of the other candidates try to get that candidate's supporters to come to them. Republicans just count the number of people who show up for each candidate. No other state has that exact system. New Hampshire (next to vote) has a straight primary election, except it has lots of independents, and they can choose which primary (Republican or Democratic) to vote in.

Re the low voter participation, less than 50% of those REGISTERED have voted in the past. Lots more people never bothered to register, even though they're eligible.

And maybe there's a low turnout because we're just as confused about all this as you are.

Posted by: Follitics | January 4, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Broder makes the statement that "For Democratic candidates and office holders, Obama holds out the potential of bringing strength to the top of the ticket that they have not seen for many election cycles." What "many election cycles" is he possibly referring to where the Democrats lacked strength at the top of the ticket? Of the last four presidential election cycles, the Democrats won the popular vote in three (and the presidency itself in two). This lack of strength of Democratic candidates only exists in Broder's mind. The facts demonstrate a consistently strong Democratic presidential ticket, well received by the nation as a whole.

Posted by: BSeibel | January 4, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

The vote in Iowa is very relevant in that it is the first actual vote following a very lengthy examination of the candidates. New Hampshire will also be important for the same reason and that it may indicate a pattern. Our system is accidental so it is important to gauge the results, but there is no doubt that Obama's victory in Iowa is a hugely significant event for many reasons. I am proud of our fellow Americans in Iowa for the increase in voter turnout and the seriousness with which they take their responsibility as the first primary.

Posted by: chapmanmd | January 4, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

To all Commonwealth commentators:

The caucus system, the Iowa caucus in particular, is very similar to the party leader selection process in a parliamentary system. Party members gather together with shifting alliances and allegiances and because the first and second choices are recorded, the front-runner is not necessarily the shoe-in.

The difference is that in a country with a history of provincial and local dominance over national affairs, each state must have its own leader selection, all leading up to the national convention. Most parliamentary systems bypass provincial governance and move directly to the national convention where all the battles and betrayals take place.

Posted by: lost_kitten56 | January 4, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Re: but we all are eligible to vote, we don't have to pass any tests or anything, or declare public allegiance to any party or organisation.
Yes, I am confused!

Like anything else America does, the Presidential primaries and their aftermath are another example of this "special" nation using "stone age" implements in the 21st century.

Which is why you can actually lose the popular vote but end up winning the white house.

Or you can wrangle your way to victory in Florida or Ohio and end up being a two time president.

America is supposedly a nation with balance. The Executive Branch is balanced by the Judicial and the Legislative branches and you get the picture. You believe that, you'll believe the moon is made of blue cheese.

Not too long ago a man named Dean screamed louder than Tarzan when he did well in a primary and history shows where he ended up.

What may eventually happen is both Rudy G and Hillary C. will brandish their NY ties and their "security" portfolios and like mindless sheep the delegates will all line up on their sides.

One hopes it will not happen.

If it does we could have 4 if not 8 more years of miserable leadership.

Posted by: ita8111 | January 4, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

It is obvious Shannon.grant works for Diebold. I am aware the Caucuses do not mean s...! It is what is being told and fed to the sheep that I find repulsive. You sound so informed. As if you know what my experience is with the Caucus process.

Posted by: dorklord | January 4, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

For an East Indian, a native of the Republic of India who got a grad degree from Toronto and has visited the continental US several times in the past decades since the sixties, the whole business of caucus is very confusing indeed.In our system, the bulk of the electorate which is illiterate do not declare their affiliations at any time.Many vote when the quid pro quo is a good bottle of liquor or a green back or the Indian equivalent. The educated classes never vote but keep on watching Prannoy Roy or the IBN CNN listening to commentaries and forecsts which are just as unreliable as the daily horoscope in a news paper.
yet the fact that a non Caucasian like Derek Obama could be chosen by a predominantly white group in Iowa is such a sea change from the sixties when we were advised not to go south of Washington D.C.
We all wish the Americans well.A good team in Washington would mean a lot of change for the world politics and peace.A chance to forget Dick Cheney and Condy the hawks.

Posted by: chust70yahoocoin | January 4, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

No more surreal than for many of us here, Hugh2. Although a Republican of long standing, I couldn't believe such an obvious dolt appealed to the nation at large, which promptly handed the sophomoric fool power well beyond any evidence of capacity to handle [albeit with an assist from the Supreme Court]. In that sense, perhaps Iowa does give us a bellwether for the next 11 months; the reported numbers of caucus participants increased substantially over 2004 so we can hope the apathy of the electorate is wearing off.

Posted by: clare_d_loon | January 4, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Afer an administration and government who for the most part have failed completely to LEAD and to set a decent and honorable example for the nation, who have been in the pockets of lobbyists and corporations, whose primary concern seems to be genrating income and feathering their own nests while enjoying exclusive perks and fine living, while the entire nation slowly and inexorably crumbles and suffers. it will be a REAL pleasure to see some change. And YES the failure to truly lead, to be innovative and daring and to set high standards, is more than simply a dereliction of duty and a moral failing, it's an abomination and a slap in the face to every one of us out here who doesn't have a six digit income. I would venture to say that the failure to lead appropriately and then to accuse everyone ELSE of being "immoral" is both reprehensible and criminal. Yes, it is DEFINITELY lonmg past due for a change by anyone who honeslty cares about the valus and principles set out in the constitution. The fact that this administration touts "American values" ad nauseum is laughable. It wioll take years to repair the damage.

Posted by: hkindt | January 4, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

It was a great victory for "likability", a term used to promote various candidates. It seems that Gov. Romney may have destroyed his with his exaggerations and other miscues. Huckabee hasn't been given enough time to destroy nimself although it seems for a time he was trying to. Despite her years of public service both before and after being first lady, Hillary has not passed the press's likability criteria. And if Obama were not given the endorsement of the other low count democratic candidates, the score could have been turned around for him. Give him too much exposure and he may drop in the likability category. If this happens you may see Al Gore step in. He may be more likable now as a star in his own right unless he gets too much exposure too soon.

Posted by: vbaum | January 4, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

This will really get ya! Bush is at it again! He has already told WH lawyers to draw up papers for another Executive Order to keep wh aides from talking to investigators about the missing torture tapes! Dunham from CT has been chosen to find out what happened.

Posted by: Chance1 | January 4, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Brit, but not in the least confused by the primary system. It's easy to be smug about the quick and decisive British approach to election (3 weeks from start to finish), but it's often forgotten that the Prime Minister isn't chosen by the people, but by MPs (who can chuck him out without consulting the people)and 3 weeks is only enough time for everyone to be buried in cliches and spin. The unfolding of the Iowa election provides time for candidates to demonstrate not just spin, but their mettle and overall dimensions. It may be cumbersome but at the end of the day the country gets a president that isn't a big question mark. Which makes the election of George very frightening. You actually knew who he was and voted for him anyway. Watching from a distance it seemed surreal.

Posted by: Hugh2 | January 4, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Huckabee will not be the nominee. If he is he will lose big. Giuliani or Thompson are the strongest Republicans and will beat Edwards or Clinton. Obama looks strong and as a Repulican I am more worried about him than the other two weaker candidates. Watch out for Thompson or Giuliani. I will vote for Obama if Huckabee is the nominee and I am a R.

Posted by: nickr | January 4, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

how seet it is to see hillaria clintona ass being knoked down in Iowa. lets hope the trend continues in new hampshire. my candidate is the real thing for change. but kuccini did not sell out to interst ,lobbies and wall street as hillaria did.
we hope a victory for kuccini in new hapshire and here in california

Posted by: jonekito | January 4, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Living in California, I watched the Iowa Caucus with great interest and wait to see what will happen in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Why? We are all not flaming liberals out here. Some us are truly moderate. California moved its primary up to weigh in on the selection of the candidate. By February, I trust that my vote will have meaning. Pundits and hacks have proclaimed who are the front runners in each party. I hope that "We, the people" select candidates that that do not polarize those of us who are moderates. The Republicans and Democrats do not inspire confidence they there is difference between the two parties. Let's see, we have no real campaign reform and I see that pork barrel politics is alive and well in Congress. I see that we still bipartisan corruption in Congress and single party corruption in the White House. A Democratic majority in Congress and a Republican President created gridlock. A Republican Congress and President created havoc. Of course, the Democrats also had their fair share of corruption when they occupied the White House and Congress, too. It is difficult to become enthusiastic for any presidential candidate that moves to the extreme to become the nominee (to appease the party hacks and the party plank ideologues); then moves to the center to become elected and moves back to the political constituency that generated support in the beginning. Are these candidates truly qualified to lead? If this were a regular job and the candidates submitted a resume, application, college transcripts and five letters of recommendation, and each came into your office for an interview, which one would you want to hire? A career politician? Oh, I forgot, we have go through the political process...primaries, conventions, and the presidential election.

Posted by: Frankel | January 4, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm so glad for Gov. Huckabee--the best leader to guide our Nation forward! Hopefully our nation now wakes up and see what great potential he has!

Posted by: espinozajl | January 4, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I liked Bill, and he left us in good shape. George has undone it. If one state or two can make a Clinton quit, then you and the other state, doesn't know a thing as to what the rest of the great United States is waiting to show you!

Posted by: campccl | January 4, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Obama is winning because he is a likable guy, who in spite of being black, refuses to play like he is a victim of race. I'd also add, he does not seem nearly so angry as either Hillary or Edwards either.

The dude is growing on me.

Posted by: pgould1 | January 4, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Republicans wanted Hillary because if she won or a republican won the powers to be would still be able to keep their war mongering agenda.

Obama will give the power back to the people as he has done with the transparency bill to expose lobbyist donations and the site to expose all government contracts and the NEW SUNSHINE BILL to force polticians to expose their earmarks BEFORE THEY CAN BE VOTED ON

Hillary is a neocon republican disguised as a dem and they want her not Obama and so you shall see in the final republican democratic debates that he will expose them for what they are... however, huckabee is the only one with Ron paul who may be able to even come up to level with Barack Obama.

Posted by: DANIELLECLARKE | January 4, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

To Jeff-for-progress:
I watched it all, and couldn't articulate what most annoyed/disappointed me about Hillary's concession speech. You got it: "me,me,me" -- in stark contrast to the two winners, as you noted. "Me" is the generation of the Clintons; it may be the shortest-lived generation to ever occupy the White House (Clinton and GWB) ... an interesting thought. The most populous generation in world history with the least commitment to public service.

Posted by: wlestina | January 4, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I am so happy that Obama trounced Hillary! I've had enough of Bush, Clinton, Bush and now another Clinton. We need to go beyond two dynasties running this country. Someone that's fresh, dynamic, inspiring and above all, honest. I think that Barack Obama might be that man. And I'm a hardcore, extreme right Republican!

Posted by: sheamoh | January 4, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

the only way to control the people is by deception. The truth has been carefully avoided by omitting the ONLY CHOICE in ALL your articles about presidential candidate and debates.
Ron Paul for President for the change America needs.

Posted by: lilmissheidi | January 4, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

This morning people all over the world turned on their computer to utube and listened to the next leader of the free world.He looked like them had a name like them and again they can trust in the wisdom of the American People

Posted by: epo1946 | January 4, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I still am not impressed with any of them, we need a hero and none of the candidates qualify

Posted by: shadyman | January 4, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

It is amazing to me that anyone can believe that the results in Iowa have any meaning except to voters of Iowa. I have not made up my mind on any of the candidates as yet, however the sentiment of those in Iowa does not influence me in any way.

It did give some of the candidates free media exposure which may not be too productive when you consider the old adage "sometimes it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt".

Posted by: dunesberry | January 4, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Only the disaffected will caucus and vote. There are no independent voters today. Those who were aligned with parties have no common ground with officials who have lost contact with their constituency. Leadership requires trust. Trust requires some degree of accountability. some tinge of interest, some inkling of honesty, some hint of morality, some smattering of knowledge, some trace of humility.
What we get implication, intention, suggestion, promise, insinuation and condemnation.
Leadership is not bought, it is rented in this democracy. Experience at waste and failure are not acceptable on a resume.

Posted by: rightlyso | January 4, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

You simple fools. Like it or not we will again have a Republican in the White House. It will not be Guiliani, Huckleberry, Romney, but instead McCain. He was basically 3rd in Iowa and one month ago he was left for dead. He spent about $39 dollars on ads and the one thing he has not done has changed any of his positions with the exception of falling in line with most of the nation along the lines of illegals. He will win in NH.

The Dems meanwhile willfight themselves into another laughable cartoon. Obama will have many missteps, Edwards will stumble due to his play the common man role and live the life of a highrolling televangeist look-a-like. Hillary will become more and more shrill as the months go on. It will be entertaining, but just as the Dems in control of both houses can not pass a bill nor override a veto. How can we expect these buffoons to win an election.

Politics as usual after the primaries!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: sherrlj | January 4, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Iowa was an interesting sideshow in the circus of primary politics and nothing more. Obama may do well in NH and SC but that will be the end of his appearance in the spotlight. The same may be said about Huckabee and Romney.

Beginning with FL and moving on to CA, NY, et al on Feb 5, the significant voters will begin to announce their preferences and they won't be voting for Obama, Huckabee, or Romney. Rudy Giuliani will reclaim his dominance in Republican politics and will secure the nomination. Likewise, Hillary will emerge (much to my chagrin) and take her place on the Democrat ballot for president. Then, and only then, can valid observations and conclusions be drawn. The "Year of the Pundits" will be over.

I offer the following prediction for the 2012 primaries. Most, if not, all major candidates in both parties will eschew the small insignificant states of IA, NH, and SC and will concentrate their efforts and resources on the big states where the general election candidates are, actually, selected. This process will be referred to in future years as the "Giuliani Method".

Posted by: UnimpressedPragmatist | January 4, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

My apologies - the earlier post should read "Up until the '80s, Iowa was a quick one-off when it came to news coverage..." The caucuses in 1980 gave the senior George Bush his "big mo" against Ronald Reagan, which lasted only a few weeks. Pity history failed to repeat itself in 2000.

Posted by: clare_d_loon | January 4, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Why no mention of Ron Paul (again)? He did better in Iowa than Guiliani. For some reason, the Post and most conventional media shortchange us on coverage of him. Could it be because he is truly the candidate of "change?" He would change the corrupt corporate/government landscape right quick, with his tax and monetary policies (among other things). The Post, corporate as it is, might not like that.
Paul's "change" would consist of adhering to the Constitution and returning to the principles of the founders of this country.
He's a candidate for grown-ups. Which means, in most eyes, not very viable. Too bad. He's about our last best shot at turning around the decline of this country.

Posted by: ericj1234 | January 4, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Iowa was an interesting sideshow in the circus of primary politics and nothing more. Obama may do well in NH and SC but that will be the end of his appearance in the spotlight. The same may be said about Huckabee and Romney.

Beginning with FL and moving on to CA, NY, et al on Feb 5, the significant voters will begin to announce their preferences and they won't be voting for Obama, Huckabee, or Romney. Rudy Giuliani will reclaim his dominance in Republican politics and will secure the nomination. Likewise, Hillary will emerge (much to my chagrin) and take her place on the Democrat ballot for president. Then, and only then, can valid observations and conclusions be drawn. The "Year of the Pundits" will be over.

I offer the following prediction for the 2012 primaries. Most, if not, all major candidates in both parties will eschew the small insignificant states of IA, NH, and SC and will concentrate their efforts and resources on the big states where the general election candidates are, actually, selected. This process will be referred to in future years as the "Giuliani Method".

Posted by: UnimpressedPragmatist | January 4, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

One Swallow does not a summer make. I still expect Mrs Clinton to win in the end.

Posted by: mike991 | January 4, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, now we are seeing all the idealists running around like excited kids in the candy store. They actually believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and that a new President will change the snake pit in Washington. It really makes no difference who sits in the White House as our future is controlled by multinational powers outside of Washington. Don't believe it, just look at the present situation with oil. At the current price of $100. per barrel it is $60. higher that some Saudis acknowledge it should be. Ask yourself, where is all that extra money is going and it isn't just the Arabs. Candidate X or Y may sound great with their pie in the sky promises of change in government. In the end they may get the nomination but don't get to the White House without cutting deals with the power brokers. The only question for the voters to resolve is, "Which Candidate will hurt us the least?"

Posted by: Lpar | January 4, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Struck by Osama's way to make a speech.Definitely the next U.S. President!

Posted by: bulgherons | January 4, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

239,000 democrats voted and 125,000 republicans voted for a total of 364,000 voters. Al Gore won the popular vote by 660,000 in 2000. Can't we all settle down a bit? A tenth of 1% of our population spoke, that's all folks! Nothing against the good people in Iowa but no one is going to care what any of them have to say again for 1,456 days! Let's face it, they have a very good PR gig going there and who can fault them for not keeping it going but PLEASE just calm down!!

Posted by: paul | January 4, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm thrilled by both wins! I like both Huckabee and Obama! (I'm an independent) My supreme wish would be that Huckabee and Obama could both win the White House, Barack as President and Huckabee as Vice President, working together. Anything and everything is possible, and anything and everything can happen!

Posted by: lindalovejones | January 4, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

For our confused British friend, I would add that the Iowa caucuses give the media something to fill air time with. In the '80s, Iowa was a quick one-off when it came to news coverage; the national news gave it a 30 second spot, the papers had a short column and everyone pretty much forgot about it thereafter. With the advent of CNN and other 24 hour news channels, Iowa started to see much more on-the-spot reportage until it grew into the monster of trivia you witness now. It does, however, have the distinct advantage of keeping "experts" and talking heads employed for a year or more before the caucuses take place!

Posted by: clare_d_loon | January 4, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Iowa proved that most polls are unreliable. Every time a poll came out that had Hillary as the favorite I just shook my head. Either the people polled weren't paying attention, or they were too caught up in the idea of her becoming the 1st woman president. Americans voted the Democrats back into Congress based on dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq, yet these same voters were willing to back "Bush Lite"? These *polls* never really added up, in my opinion. The media revelled in crowning Hillary and Rudy/then Mitt as the front-runners. It seriously makes me question the veracity of the poll takers. Too much corporate media is behind these polls. The corporate media sure does love to tell us what and how to think, don't they?

The bottom line is to just ignore the polls, really listen to what the candidates are saying, and vote with your head.

Posted by: Lorddavud1 | January 4, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

It is a curious fact that the stock prices of all the major pharmaceutical giants fell sharply after Hilary's loss in the Iowa battle. Thank God that this sinister lady will not have a chance at taking decisions about the nation's health-care: she is too cosy with the likes of Merck and Pfizer.

Posted by: alzach | January 4, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Is it my imagination, or did Huckabee resoundingly win in Iowa because Republicans in Iowa are sick and tired of a corrupt, incompetent Bush regime and associated foreign and domestic policy debacles? Was it my imagination, or did Huckabee allude to those factors in his victory speech? Is it my imagination, or is there still hope for Republicans and for our nation?

Dorian de Wind

Posted by: DoriandeWind | January 4, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

All these people being herded like sheep...How many times have we the people have heard talk of Unity - or Hope, albeit Obama, Huckabee, Schillary, Mitt, Edwards.....yada,yada,yada - WAKE- UP - They are politicians..what do you expect them to tell you - the TRUTH? And how do you spell hope - H-I-G-H-E-R T-A-X-E-S.....

Posted by: short1 | January 4, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

The Iowa caucus is the sign that Edwards could be the next president.Sen. Clinton has shown her weakness. Obama is going to show his own in near future. Edwards is the only one (in both sides:republican and democrats)to show original ideas and strong ideals. He is the one who can make people all over the world go back to love and admire America after years of Clintonbushes with their wars greed and hypocricy.Anyone who loves America should hope that Edwards wins.

Posted by: e_bartolo | January 4, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse


I didn't see anyone explain the electoral college... or the history of how the primaries started, although it was hinted at.

The electoral college is made up of people from each state -- the number equalling the number of senators and congressmen that a state has. When the populace goes to vote for a candidate for the general election, they vote for not the candidate, but for the electors pledged to support him. When I was young, they'd actually list all of them on the voting ballot.

Now, at least in Illinois, we just see the names of the presidential candidates. So, if more people in a state vote for Bush, then all the electoral votes for that state would go to Bush. It does not get split based on 51% of electors to Bush and 49% to Gore - which would be the popular way to go.

So, that is why winning big states is more important that winning the popular vote. You can win all the Alaskas and Vermonts (3 electors each) and still lose. You can win the popular vote, and still lose. Since all the electors from each state MUST vote for their pledged canidate (on the first ballot).

If you ever watch election results from the US on election night, they color the states red or blue depending on which way the popular vote in that state went -- then they have a running tab that goes until the magic number of a majority of electoral votes is reached, then they declare the winner.

Also, many work places allow their workers to come in late or leave early, and polling places are open early and close late. But, Saturday elections would make more sense.

nancy in chicago

Posted by: nljfs | January 4, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Once again Edwards is ignored by you the corporate media, as he has regularly been ignored leading up to the Iowa caucus. Edwards came in second, but you give three to four times the coverage to the third place candidate? No articles mentioning that he was outspent at least 3-4 to 1 by both Obama & Hilary. No outrage from WP concerning the obscene amounts of corporate money spent by 'O' & 'H'. No articles mentioning that this could easily be percieved as an anti-war vote. Clinton the most hawkish of the top three-- loses to newcomer Obama--never voted for the war; Edwards, who wants all troop out of Iraq in nine months.
Would it be more accurate if the headline read "Antiwar democrats beat media's inevitable crowned winner Clinton?"
Is the WP corporation threatened by the end the war stance & populist themes of the Edwards campaign?

Posted by: docroth47 | January 4, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else find it interesting that Obama's speech last night kept reiterating "Hope", yet his book is titled "The Audacity of Hope"?

Obama isn't scary. They ALL are! Regardless of party membership, anyone wanting the Presidency should be seen as scary. I subscribe to a Government that is rid of lobbying and special interest (yet this is why these people get into politics in the first place: to do their time, establish their network so that they can retire from the system and BECOME a lobbyist) and then turn it into a services organization owned by the people.

Posted by: jericbrix | January 4, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

To dougmudder and anyone else who wishes to listen,

This is how it works. The Clinton/media machine will report what it wants regardless of the outcome of any race. Stay alert. It happens on both sides.

Posted by: mikeev | January 4, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

A response to the "interested but ignorant Brit" who wants an explaination as to why caucuses and primaries are so important:

The importance of the caucuses and primaries are three fold: 1) they are mini elections, binding delegates to cast their nominating votes to a specific candidate; 2) they're an exercise in the power of localism--each state conducting the process with unique, often quirky local customs; 3) combined, they are a grueling test spread out over several months thereby weeding out weaker and poorly financed candidates while providing extensive exposure and momentum to those that place well.

The number of participants in the caucus and primaries in less significant than the process that it creates: a lenghty, scrutinizing endevour inwhich only the strongest survive.

Posted by: tim.gaetz | January 4, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't buy the theory that Republicans are "demoralized", giving the Democrats a clear path to the White House. On the other hand, I do feel sorry for all of us. Both parties are fielding a pretty pathetic, uninspiring bunch of candidates. I will eventually just hold my nose and vote for one of them. It's gotten so expensive and the campaigns so ugly that the really good ones want no part of it. Sadly, we all lose.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | January 4, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse


Your confusion understandable, expecially from one whose country has a rational parliamentary system for elections.

My intuitive and unscientific explanation for Iowa and the primary systems are twofold:

1. To maintain the power of the dominant political parties-especially at the state level. This may soon change somewhat with efforts to have more states' primaries earlier, or, at the same time.

2. Electoral peculiarities such as Iowa, New Hampshire suggest to me a legacy from 18th-19th century efforts to insure the continuation of Slavery through states' rights, and disproportionate representation given less populous states.

(I invite someone with a history background to rebut me.)

Posted by: Spectator | January 4, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

>it's sad that a big part of campaigning has become not so much getting your message across but trying to motivate your supporters to actually show up and vote

no, all of modern campaigning (gee, thanks, Professor Gingrich) depends on attacks which depress The Other Guy's Base turnout **more** than your own base is depressed by The Other Guy's attacks on yours.

it is a given (and necessary for the success of this corporate-funded populism-suppression strategy) that turnout of the non-affiliated majority will be depressed by all the above. "independents" don't count...


because Republicans would be doomed to electoral wilderness if voting depended on the popular appeal of their policies.

but they can reliably muster at least as many blindly-determined Base members as the Democratic Party can muster.

Posted by: adrianrf | January 4, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Seems like moderation is in order. Not everyone who wins the Iowa caucus goes on to win the prez. Bill Clinton didn't win it in '92. How ironic it is that the old style "backroom politics" of 1860 gave us Abraham Lincoln as a candidate, but the "open" Iowa-type system gave us, well, for example, Jimmy Carter. What's bad about the system is that it's "front-loaded": if you don't show early strength, you have to get out. Yet there is 10 months time between Iowa and the general election. We'd never have had Lincoln this way, and why can't the system stay more flexible? I'd rather see a combination: early caucuses helping to determine trends--and afford the general public to see the candidates on the stump-- but fluidity with regards to delegate commitment. And certainly something has to be done to make it easier for candidates to run. If it's just about money--and they take their good ideas and maybe even their integrity, and go home--then we are all losers and ultimately just pawns in a game totally outside our control. Is it any wonder people don't go to vote?

Posted by: neverneverland1 | January 4, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

To braddem: A slight correction to and expansion of what why_style said. A major feature of the US presidential election is that essentially it is difficult, if not practically impossbile, for an independent or third party candidate to win the November presidential election. For that reason, most of the eligible voters will not be voting for who they want for president so mmuch as selecting which of the two major-party endorsed candidates they prefer, or voting against which one they detest more. This also applies to many lesser elections, such as state governors, although I myself live in one of those states which not so long ago elected an independent as governor, which proves it is possible for an independent to win, but it is not probable.

Each of the major parties nominates a single presidential candidate at a national convention, which will take place about six months from now for each party. The delegates to each of those conventions will be selected by rules which vary for each state. In some states there is a primary election, and the campaign commitee for the candidate which wins the primary election gets to select all of the delegates to the national convention for that state. In some other states, there is a primary and each presidential campaign committe is apportioned a number of delegates based upon their percentage of the primary vote. In other states there are caucuses (this is not only limited to Iowa...some other states also use caucuses) which are essentially mini conventions on a precinct level (about 1200 households on the average), from which delegates go on to local district conventions, from which delegates are elected to go to congressional district conventions, from which delegates are elected to go to the state conventions. Not only are the rules potentially different for each state, but they are frequently different for each of the parties within a given state.

The upshot of all this is that each party's system is designed to allow local input into selecting the candidate, and that selecting the nominated candidates is a major portion of the overall election. As others have noted, momentum and cash donations accrue to those who show good results in the early contests. Those states which have their primaries or caucuses early effectively have more say in the eventual outcome, hence many states try to move up their primary and caucus dates. While it may not have been reported in your country, several states moved their dates this year and were threatened by the national party organizations with being excluded from the national conventions altogether. There is a constant battle going on between the national party organizations and the state party organizations over division of power.

As to why so few elegible voters actually show up for the general election, there are many theories, but one is that by the time the two major party candidates have been selected, many people find that the person they actually preferred has already been eliminated from consideration, so they lose interest in showing up at all. As an old political saying goes in my state, the future belongs to those who show up. Perhaps half the people have so little faith in the possibilities of the future that it isn't worth the effort to show up for the general election. however, if the high turnout in Iowa is any indicator, there may be a higher interest in the future this year than in a long while.

Posted by: gary.lee | January 4, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

A friend of a friend writes that she'd vote for a goat in the next presidential election, as long as it bleated Democratic. Yeah, I'll go with the goat--though I'd prefer it if its name wasn't Obama. Man, that guy is scary. He runs on the slogan of "change," he's part of the system he hypocritcally condemns.

He says he won't take money from lobbyists; no, but he'll take money from lobbyists' wives, and he'll take full advantage of lobbyists' expertise and networks. "Change" is just another word for a scam, to wildly paraphrase Kris Kristofferson. The guy's as plugged into K Street as anybody on Capitol Hill, with the disadvantage of lacking any meaningful experience. Haven't Americans had enough of inexperienced presidents? With his lack of experience, who do they think he's going to sign-on as his advisors, cabinet secretaries, vice-president? Sheesh.

So, yeah, I'll go with the goat.

Posted by: hoeya | January 4, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

It says something about our maturity d as a nation that a man of color gets a huge vote in a conservative and hugely white state.

It also says something about the message both Obama and Huckabee put out there -- a positive message from two authentic human beings who bucked the trend of tradition. As Romney was pandering his butt off, Huckabee was saying that the world can be a better place. While I reject his prescription for it, I give the Governor credit for puttinig it out there. The same with Obama.

We are a wounded nation after almost eight years of Bush incompetence and cronyism, of neocon lies and torture and distortion of our Constitution. Both Huckabee and Obama are offering some healing and we are jumping for it. Good.

Posted by: karenfern | January 4, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse


Agreed! You want to see the Hillary Healthcare System? Go to your local VA hospital and imagine it as expensive as private healthcare and twice a inefficient.

Posted by: jericbrix | January 4, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rratvet | January 4, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

First, given all the natural disasters that have occurred in the last 5 years, i think this article title is irresponsible and the author should be fired for this! Next thing, he will be yelling fire in the theater to sell the latest edition of the Washington Post.

Replying to ravitchn's "evil Bush" comments, I suppose you just love the fact that Saddam and his bureaucracy killer and torured over 10000 people a year. I wonder if you would have the same opinion if you were having your skin peeled off alive and being kept conscious so you couldn't pass out. Certainly Bush didn't get this done well, but hind-sight is 20-20. What would you have done other than just criticize other people's actions? At least someone acted! If you poll the population in Iraq, they are frustrated with the terror attacks from the remaining Bathist losers and world terror groups coming to their aid, BUT they are much happier not being under the rule of a family that torture's and kills his citizens if they are not Bathist. If the Democrats gain power in the Congress and Executive office, we will all be paying for their stupidity, as they have a wondeful history of passing legislation that looks good in the ad brochure, but the reality is that the US Government can't effectively run any program and we end up dumping our hard earned money into programs that are corrupt and offer much less in value than initially offered.

Posted by: jericbrix | January 4, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I was pleased to see our man, Governor Mike Huckabee, win in Iowa. He has rocked to the core the Republican establishment and he plans to take our party back to where it was when Reagan was President of the United States. Mike Huckabee is the candidate that wants to unite Americans, not divide us. We do not need four years of divisive, partisan politics and gridlock in the congress. We need a leader who will work with the Congress and be sensitive to the needs of all Americans, particularly middle class working folks. Huckabee, strong on defense, strong on family values and a man of moral conviction. Go Huckabee!

Posted by: LarkinGMead | January 4, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

the experts get it wrong again, the mortage crisis was a big unforseen, Obama's triumph too. Billary will fight to the end, unless they get third too many times. The american ellectorate is waking up with worst than a hangover, a Bush nightmare in real life. The national debt is out of control as are the wars, in Irak, in Afghanistan and against illegal aliens.The civil liberties in shams and torture does away with US dignity. George Washington said, when torture was suggested against british prisoners and knowing that they were torturing americans, ' No, we're building a better country' That's the true american tradition that Bush and his henchmen have betrayed. The Bushies should end in international courts for crimes against humanity, that would restore US honor

Posted by: jmgomezm | January 4, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

To the Brit who asked why this is important to Americans. I think it's just refreshing for us in such a corrupt and controlling corporate government. It is a spit of democracy and it gives us hope, albeit brief. I am a Vietnam War veteran and this nation has allowed a small number of Republican men to kill who knows how many people to privatize Iraq's oil illegally. I am an Obama supporter and I also want my nation back from Big Oil and Coal and K Street. Standing next to Hillary, the ominpresent Madeline Albright, aka Albright Consulting from K Street. We can stand united against Bin Laden again as we did after 9-11 and stop killing people for natural resources like the Romans. It's $100 a barrel because Republicans invaded an OPEC nation and are illegally privatizing their nationalized oil! Please support Obama!

Posted by: rhyer | January 4, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Iowa isn't actually the only state that caucuses. We do it in Colorado, as well.

And to dorklord: perhaps you should participate in a caucus before you toss out a charge of rigging. Unless you are a master at herding cats, I'm not sure how you would accomplish it. Nice little rant, though.

Posted by: shannon.grant | January 4, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

The revolt of he Walmart Republicans is the beginning of the end of the Rove coalition.

Posted by: diabloquick.wa | January 4, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

An earthquake? Actually it was a lot of non-Iowan activists on both sides who tilted the tables. Both Obama and Huckabee with be looking in just hoping to be possible "Veep" material after Super Tuesday

Posted by: sherrlj | January 4, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Complete sham! What a sad day when I see exactly what was predicted. A white evangelical against a black man. The truth has no chance. The caucus was rigged and unfortunately Huckabee will win. Our country is so shameful.

Posted by: dorklord | January 4, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The real loser in Iowa is George Bush and all his evil policies. The winner is the American people. This does not necessarily mean Obama will be out next president, only that the next president will be a total repudiation of Bushism.

Posted by: ravitchn | January 4, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

To your very insightful answer to the Englishman, we should also post here the possiblity of a BIG RED PROBLEM...coming this year;

i.e. The Jewish mayor of New York, who wants to run as an "independent" has sent out a big crew looking at how to handle the aforesaid Electoral to game the system, ineffect.
There is also a book by a like minded politician called "AFTER THE ELECTION".

Being alert would be good, here.

Posted by: whistling | January 4, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

>As an interested but ignorant Brit, can >somebody explain to me why these caucuses >and primaries are so important to the >eventual presidential election, considering >that reportedly less than 10% of potentially >eligible people actually vote....Yes, I am >confused!

Hence, your need for a monarchy?

Posted by: crocea.mors | January 4, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

To Braddem:

Here in America only very rich people are permitted to run for high offices. The rich buy the elections with huge donations, often spread out among many friends and family members. Unlike the rest of the world, we hold our elections on a Tuesday, in order to keep as many working people away from the already overcrowded polls. Lately we have decided to rig the elections by striking many voters from registration lists because their names sound like criminal's names. We also let a Republican voting machine company, Diebold, put insecure computers in many polling places to make it easier to rig elections. Minorities are threatened on their way to vote in places like Florida. In the end we only get to choose between two people that corporations have decided should be President. Individual votes do not really count anyway, we still rely on a ancient system known as the Electoral College.

If those tricks fail we have a corrupt Supreme Court that will appoint the person that corporations demand.

These techniques were all used to install our worst president in US history, Dick Cheney hiding behind his puppet, Bush.

Many people in the U.S. also do not vote because public schools and broken families fail to teach the importance of voting.

For an example of a real democracy you might look at India or Switzerland. More than 2 candidates are taken seriously in elections in those places.

Posted by: thw2001 | January 4, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's planning real hardball now. She's vowing that unless she's proclaimed president, all bets are off regarding her returning the ripped-off White House furniture.

Posted by: filoporquequilo | January 4, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Note to braddem:

The claimed advantage of the current system is that it is possible for a poorly known candidate or outsider (Carter in '76, McCain in '00, Obama and Huckabee now) to compete in smaller states with cheaper media markets. Biden and Dodd dropped out on the Democratic side, but they were going nowhere in the national polls. Guiliani, on the other hand, is staking his run on the bigger states--starting with Florida.

Direct democracy, like it or not, permits the voters to select the nominees, rather than the party bosses. It is, however, both expensive and messy. Gordon Brown waited in the wings for how many years? British Labour voters never really got a chance to say who they wanted to succeed Blair. Up until around 1960 (I think), it was done much that way with the decisions being made at the nominating conventions.

One other point on cost. The Supreme Court has held that political advertising is an essential part of free speech, guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. Thus, it is unconstitutional to limit political advertising. The closest thing we have is limiting donations to candidates. I'd frankly prefer a system where there are no such limits, but the source of donations needs to be public.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 4, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that both Broder and Brooks (NYT) use the earthquake metaphor. It would appear that the caucus participants in the tiny little state of Iowa have managed to start rocking the boat.

Posted by: bsimon | January 4, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

TheBobBob - you are right on point.

Americans (we) are sick of all the nonsense and corruptness of the last 8 years. This country has been led down a dead-end path, by a man and political party with their heads up their azzes.

The middle-class and low-income people in this country are hurting...badly.

And they are looking for new blood, with new ideas, new strategies, and a firm grip on where we stand as a country in the midst of this new world/global order....and they don't care what color or sex this leadership long as he or she has the ability and intellect to turn things around.

Finally, Finally...I hope that voters get off their butts and vote, so we can reclaim this country and go to work on repairing our country and our international reputation and reverse so much of the damage that we've suffered the past 8 years.

I truly hope that the rest of the country adopts the enthusiasm that resulted in such a large turn-out for the caucases in Iowa because in the end, WE are the true agents of change.

Posted by: ldc_421 | January 4, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Elections are run by the states with their own rules as long as they don't run afoul of Federal laws. Oregon does not exclude convicted felons.

Posted by: sthalsey | January 4, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Actually, most people forget that the first Tuesday, after a Monday in November does NOT choose the president, but only chooses electors. The electorial college is who actually votes for president.

As for the primaries, the reason that we have Iowa & New Hampshire as the first primaries is because they are small enough population that people get a chance to look the candidates in the eye and shake their hands, rather than just hearing something on TV. Supposedly, this is a better way to choose a candidate. You may disagree, but that is the logic that is used to justify Iowa & NH being first. I have heard that Iowans and New Hampshirites(?) take selecting a candidate very seriously, which is a good thing, since in other parts of the country it often seems to be trivialized.

I listened to the audio book version of Hillary's autobiography. She read it herself, and unlike her husband, she came across with the tone of a 1st grade teacher; the "You are all just unlearned and I'm going to tell you a story with an important message" kind of tone. I couldn't finish it and I decided right then and there to not support her in the primaries.

I do have a correction to a previous post; Perot was not a "3rd party candidate", he was an "independent candidate". Even 3rd party candidates have to be selected by their party to run. Independents don't have that hurdle.

Michael Bloomberg is the only person that I've heard of that might jump into the general election. It would be a real hoot if he did and the 2 major party nominees were Rudy & Hillary. 2 NY mayors & a NY Senator. Kind of like having the Yankees vs the Mets in the World Series.

As for why Iowa & NH are so determinative; let me suggest that it is money. No one wants to give (throw away) money to a looser and if you can not do well in either Iowa or NH, then no one will give you money to campaign in the more populous states.

So unless you are independently wealthy and can bankroll the whole operation, then you can't continue to be competitive after a 4th or worse place in both Iowa & NH.

Posted by: cyberfool | January 4, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh Dean Broder, the people completely rejected the establishment and picked populist candidates. It must really hurt you to write about it.

Posted by: havok26 | January 4, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

No Republican can win in 2008. It doesn't matter whether the nominee is Huckabee, Romney or McCain..Republicans are so demoralized (immoralized?) by the Bush/Rove deceit that they'll just stay home. Meanwhile, twice as many Democrats will come out to vote, as seen last night in Iowa. They are motivated, they are tired of being angry at the hijacking of America by the evangelical right and corporate press. They're tired of being accused of being unAmerican terrorist lovers because they object to unconstitutional abuses of power.
If you think Iowa is an aberration, you're dreaming. The Bush/Republican nightmare is about to be over. Wake-up America.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 4, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The margins do not support Mr Broder's breathless hyperbole.

Posted by: zukermand | January 4, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

oh and as for why it's so expensive to run a campaign, there are a lot of reasons.

for one, advertising is expensive. we're capitalists so even political ads - everything from television to bumper stickers - have to be paid for out of the campaign. candidates are allowed to get money from the government for their campaign, but it's usually not much in the grand scheme.

there's also staffing such an endeavor. aside from the high priced political advisors and campaign strategists around the candidate, you have to fund smaller, local organizations all over the country. a large part of campaigning is putting togetehr this nationwide network to work locally to convince individual voters.

and then there's the travel and cost of the constant campaign events. most of the candidates have their own planes and/or buses for themselves, their staff, and the press (yes, the campaign pay the way for the rpess covering them). a lot of these events and thigs are organized lcoally, but it's still the candidates campaign that has to pay for everything.

what it all comes down to is the sheer size of our country. you're trying to reach nearly 400 million people spread throughout 50 states that stretch from one end of a continent to the other. a campaign basically has to build and fund it's own nationwide infrastructure.


Posted by: why_style | January 4, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

braddem, everyone votes in the general election on the first Tuesday in November. Same day for everyone.

Right now the candidates for each of the major parties are trying to determine who will represent them in the general election. By the first week in June, all members of the major parties and some independents will have an opportunity to vote for the person that they want to represent the party. We stagger the voting times for each state so that we have time to meet and know the candidates more fully, and to allow upstarts who may not be well financed or well know to make their case to a small portion of the electorate at first. Otherwise, the campaign with the best commercials would win.

Posted by: donttreadonme | January 4, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse


i totally understand why this is so confusing. it really doesn't make sense that there's this multi-tiered primary system run by the political parties in which the primary rules differ fom state to state and then a general nationwide election between those two winners (as well as some smaller parties that have no chance and sometimes a rich third party candidate like ross perot in '96). i'll start with the general election as it's simpler and pertains directly to your question.

in the general election next november every US citizen over the age of 18 who has not been convicted of a felony is eligible to vote. generally over the last 30 years, voter turn out has been below 50% which i believe is pretty much in line with your elections. it's sad that a big part of campaigning has become not so much getting your message across but trying to motivate your supporters to actually show up and vote. the thing is that it's the presidential elections every four years usually generate the greatest turnout - i think the last election was close around 60%, but the midterm elections of senators and congresspeople in specficic districts usually garner less voter interest. and the state and local elections usually have pretty pitiful turnout (like 25% or less) unless there's some sort of hot button ballot initiative or something.

as for the confusion of the primaries, it is hard to figure out. iowa is an exception in that they do this caucus thing which is totally different from any other state. most states have a straightforward vote for their candidates, but who is allowed to vote varies. in some states the primary is only open to registered members of the party. some states allow unaffiliated independent voters to weigh in. and some states let anyone vote in any party's primary. plus there's the issue of primaries being held over a two month period instead of all on one day like the general election. this adds extra weight to the states that go first because some candidates drop out while others end up gaining momentum. unless it is an exceptionally tight race, it's usually decided half way through so hardly anyone shows up to the states that go toward the end of the process. it is very convoluted and a lot of it is sort of engineered by the political parties.

that said, i do like voting for individual candidates as opposed to a parlimentary system where you're voting for a party. i just wish we had more parties like your system and therefore more candidates to choose from.


Posted by: why_style | January 4, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Vilindio, qmc789, modestproposal
Thank you all for answering my queries. You will appreciate that the election to the theoretically most powerful office in the world is of great interest to the rest of us.
Can I however ask a supplementary question or two - Who is entitled to vote in the subsequent presidential election? Why does it seem to us that such a small percentage of Americans actually vote? And why does it cost so much to run?
(And, Modestproposal, I take your point about Wikipedia, I should have thought of that myself..)

Posted by: braddem | January 4, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Earthquake is the wrong word - this is a Revolution - and with cause.

Posted by: glclark4750 | January 4, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps...another message from last night's IOWA Caucuses was the SIZE of the indicator of voter intensity is the sheer size of the turnout and IOWA's exceeded all expectations. This result masy reflect more than the impact of tons of advertising may suggest a huge swelling of voter dissatisfaction with the Bush Presidency and the decision to do something about a political direction and operating mentality based upon a we/they philosophy - domestic and foreign. The message may be found in the huge numbers of citizens who will get involved in every primary and by so doing REJECT the policies of the Washington "ruling elites." Enough IS enough.

Posted by: gandalfthegrey | January 4, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I forgot to add that come election time we Yanks are all independent voters. Many Americans do not belong to political parties or care to. I vote absentee from Mexico.

Posted by: vilindio | January 4, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

So Edwards beats Clinton, finishes second, and all the Post headlines are still Obama-Clinton. Slant much?

Posted by: dougmuder | January 4, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I think the major weakness of Hillary's concession speech was the sotto voce voice that said, "Me, Me, Me." And Obama's and Huckabee's strength in their victory speeches had a more loudly pronounced, "We, We, We." As in, "We, the People."

I'm a good Democrat, so I will vote for Hillary if she is the nominee. But, I hope that she learns something in this process, beyond using the usual tactical maneuvers, to try to derail the Obama candidacy. There is something valuable to learn from his victory (and Huckabees) and all the candidates from either party would be more useful Americans if they absorbed it.

Posted by: Jeff-for-progress | January 4, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

To the confused Brit:
I am also confused by the Iowa caucuses( My aunt,born and lived her whole life in Iowa once said it stands for "Idiots out walking around", only a joke). The only help I can give is to remember that the primaries are functions of the political parties not the national government.
Vilindio, a confused Yank in Mexico

Posted by: vilindio | January 4, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

braddem, the early primaries to not allow a candidate to garner enough votes to secure the nomination, but they demonstrate whether a candidate has the "Big Mo." One can gain a good deal of momentum from early wins if one becomes defined as a winner rather than an also-ran. The primary caucuses and elections also are a testing ground for how well a candidate can run a political race, including staying on message, appealing to different constituencies, responding to attacks, managing a dynamic organization, etc. These are indicators of how electable a candidate would be in a national race.

What a lovely mess!

Posted by: qmc789 | January 4, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse


This is when each party selects a candidate to run in the general election. Sort of a nation-wide referendum for each party to see how their prospective candidates appeal on a national scale.

Posted by: ModestProposal | January 4, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

The field in New Hampshire is the field until February 6.

Posted by: blasmaic | January 4, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Business as usual politics took a hit last night in IOWA. The collapse of caucus and primary dates into the next few weeks will prove a huge obstacle to candidates running behind. There is very little time to overcome a bounce. No time to spin the stories before the next contest. If Obama takes New Hampshire, Clinton is toast. If Romney loses to McCain in the same venue he is on the way out to the compast pile.

Posted by: gandalfthegrey | January 4, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

As an interested but ignorant Brit, can somebody explain to me why these caucuses and primaries are so important to the eventual presidential election, considering that reportedly less than 10% of potentially eligible people actually vote.
Yes I know that my country has a different system and less than half of OUR electorate seem to be interested in voting - but we all are eligible to vote, we don't have to pass any tests or anything, or declare public allegiance to any party or organisation.
Yes, I am confused!

Posted by: braddem | January 4, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Today was a great day because my kids and your kids may embrace HOPE now and that they can make changes we made in the 60s. Obama has the good judgment to navigate a "New Frontier" of Hope and sanity for the US and the World. A most memorable day almost as big as the NH primaries in 5 days when he wins there too!

Posted by: steve | January 4, 2008 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Check out this awesome Iowa Caucus post mortem analysis at

Posted by: thirdrailradio | January 4, 2008 7:19 AM | Report abuse

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