Friday, January 04, 2008

Lessons from Iowa

Pundits throughout the country are scrambling to make sense of last night's Iowa caucuses, the traditional kickoff of the presidential primary season.

I'm no expert, merely a political junkie, but for my money the biggest lesson from Iowa is a simple one -- America is one great country.

Where else could guys like Mike Huckabee (if you're immediate response is Mike who? you aren't alone) and Barack Obama defeat the well-funded establishment candidates of their respective parties? And underdog fans everywhere rejoiced. What could be more American than that?

In the grand scheme of things, Iowa may not matter all that much. Hillary Clinton could rebound in a big way for the Democrats next Tuesday in New Hampshire; Mike Huckabee may never be heard from again. (Tom Harkin once won the Iowa Caucus, and who even remembers him?)

The big loser in Iowa is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney outspent Huckabee something like 10-1 in the Hawkeye State and was beaten like a drum. If he loses big in New Hampshire, Mitt is toast.

Democrat John Edwards held his own against Clinton in Iowa, but he still has a long row to hoe. If he comes in third on Tuesday, Smilin' Johnny can head on back to that big house in North Carolina. But if he wins or finishes second, look out. He could do quite well in South Carolina.

Clearly, though, Obama and Clinton are the favorites. Clinton is well-organized in New Hampshire and has a ton of money. Plus, hubby Bubba is well-loved among New Hampshire Democrats. If she wins Tuesday, nobody will even remember Iowa.

But Americans love a winner, particularly someone who appears to be on a roll. If Obama wins big in New Hampshire, look out, y'all. This could get real interesting.

Who knows what to say about the Republicans. A John McCain win in New Hampshire would be big for his floundering campaign. Fred Thompson needs a solid showing next week to have any kind of chance to extend his bumbling effort.

My guess is the Republican race will come down to Mayor Rudy (who didn't even bother in Iowa) and McCain -- with either Thompson or Romney the wild card, depending on how New Hampshire falls. Don't count out a Huckabee surge, though, once the campaign moves south.

The most amazing thing about this presidential election is that we'll know who the two nominees will be in the wee hours of Feb. 5-6. Super Tuesday is insanely early this year, with a ton of states holding early primaries to get in on the action. Compare this to the old days, when candidates wouldn't sew up the nomination until the summer conventions.

It's a boring thought, really, and almost begs for an overhaul in our system. Still, hold on to your seats, folks. If you love politics, the next month or so could be mighty entertaining.

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Blogger Brian Hornback said...

Mike Huckabee a great candidate and will be a much better President than anyone that the other side has. BTW, Huckabee has beat the Clinton's and the Clinton machine 4 times.

8:48 AM  

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