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Friday, January 04, 2008

Caucus Results/Analysis

After inundating myself with at least four hours of caucus coverage last night both on CNN and local TV, all while winning a wager on the Kansas Jayhawks, here is my breakdown of what happened last night in Iowa:


Theme: Hope > experience. Clearly the caucusers (?) chose the more optimistic, inspiring tone of the Obama campaign over the experience-themed Hillary campaign. Once I saw the turnout, I pretty much figured it is going this way. Obama is really getting young people and independents out in droves, and it showed last night. Clinton better hope this is a fluke, but with New Hampshire only 5 days away, I'm not sure that she can turn it around.

Loser: Clinton. I still think she can win New Hampshire, but with a gun to my head I would put my money on Obama at this point. If she loses that and then loses South Carolina (which would theoretically be her worst state) it's probably over. She spent a lot in Iowa and to get third is a kick to the groin (yes, I know, it was intentional).

Treading water: John Edwards. His 2nd place was respectable, and I don't think anyone would have thought he could beat Hillary a month ago, but this was the basket containing all of his eggs, and I think he only goes down from here.

Out: Biden and Dodd. The loss of Biden hurts because he is so ideologically solid on the issues and makes people bring it in debates. Dodd had the firefighters, and I enjoy the show Rescue Me.


Theme: Populism dominates. Clearly Huckabee rocked Iowa with a combination of wacko evangelicalism and liberal economics. While this was clearly a huge win and will give his campaign some much needed money, he gets his ass-kicked in New Hampshire because the Republicans there tend to be more libertarian than evangelical, and they won't be having it.

Loser: Romney and Thompson. Thompson is the laziest politician in the history of the United States, even ahead of the 350lb William Howard Taft. He's mailing it in and it shows. I can't stand this guy's sense of entitlement and I just hope he gets his ass kicked everywhere. Romney has literally been in Iowa for about a year, and he had to think he would win or only lose by 3-5% at worst. Well, he got his ass kicked. If McCain beats him in New Hampshire, he could join Edwards.

Treading Water: McCain. He really needs New Hampshire but he has to be happy that Romney isn't taking any momentum from Iowa back east.

Out: For all practical purposes, Ron Paul and Giuliani are done, taking much needed comedy from the Republican race with them.

(Stay tuned for my Wild Card NFL picks this afternoon)

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To be honest, Huckabee's performance is scary to me. The christians love to vote, and specifically they love to vote for "their guys", no matter where they stand on what. Huckabee says a lot of the right things to put himself in that "liberal republican" camp, but the hard truth is the guy has said that he uses "divine intervention" to make political decisions....not good. His economics might be liberal, but the guy is all for the war, thinks Guantamo is "a distraction" and has been involved in shady government accounting from the beginning. If he can keep it going, it could be a tough road for the Dems.
Huckabee doesn't have a chance, and to say that Rudy is out is completely insane. Rudy is spending all his time in Florida right now; he conceded Iowa a long time ago.

Huckabee is an interesting story because it seems the media is pushing this guy as hard as possible because they know he would be destroyed in a general election. This is depressing, because The Huck is Republican by religion only.

Hillary's third-place finish was eye-opening...it's going to be pretty tough for her to come back. The same for Edwards; I don't see him doing much from here on forward. Yeah, he came in second, but he campaigned harder in Iowa than any candidate in either party.

And I wouldn't count out Ron Paul just yet...JOIN THE REVOLUTION!
Ron Paul puts up a solid 10% in a state that he didn't spend a lot of time in, even with the media blackout. Don't count him out just yet.

The revolution will go on!
For some good (fresh) political commentary, check out Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi. If you get Rolling Stone, he has an article in about every issue. If you don't, check him out here: http://www.alternet.org/authors/6535/

He also has a great book called "Spanking the Donkey" about following candidates during the last election. The dude's had an interesting life--check him out on Wikipedia (I assure you, everything there is true). Some claim he's the next Hunter Thompson, but he tends to disagree.
Another vaguely Thompson-esque book on the primary season is novelist Stephen Elliott's "Looking Forward to It". Elliott writes for The Believer and McSweeney's a lot and basically he just decided to follow around the 2004 Democratic candidates as if he were a journalist. Some of its value might have been in how relevant it was when published--the final chapter is on the national convention yet the book still came out before the election--but it's a pretty great read nonetheless.

A political novice, Elliott is so much more sincere about the process than the candidates that it's almost painful.
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