Thursday, January 03, 2008

Results are in from Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sen. Barack Obama, bidding to become the nation's first black president, captured the Iowa caucuses Thursday night, opening test in the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Mike Huckabee rode a wave of support from evangelical Christians to victory in the Republican caucuses.

Obama, 46 and a first-term senator from Illinois, eased past a high-powered field that included Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the former first lady, and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the party's 2004 vice presidential nominee.

Among Republicans, Huckabee, a preacher turned politician, handily defeated Mitt Romney despite being outspent by tens of millions of dollars, and deciding in the campaign's final days to scrap television commercials that would have assailed the former Massachusetts governor.

Obama, who campaigned as an apostle of change in Washington, was gaining 36 percent support among Democrats., Edwards, who ran promising to battle the special interests in the capital, and Clinton, who stressed her experience, both were drawing about 30 percent.

What is interesting in all of this is the role perceptions play in the outcome. Hillary's third-place finish means that she is in deep trouble because she was seen as the inevitable candidate. Thompson's third-place finish means that he is newly viable because too many of those who should have known better had written him off.

What to take from all of this? It is nowhere written that Hillary must be the Democrat nominee and all those true conservatives who would have backed Thompson if they only thought he could win have no reason to withhold their support now.

It's a new race brothers and sisters. Enjoy the ride.