Next Day’s Iowa Headlines
(delivered the afternoon before)
Edwards, Huckabee in Narrow Wins
Third Place Sweet for Thompson, Sour for Clinton
Des Moines, Ia. -- Former Sen. John Edwards and former Gov. Mike Huckabee laid claim, at least for a few days, to front runner status for the respective presidential nominations of the Democratic and Republican parties, narrowly defeating rivals Senator Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney. The day’s top story, however, may have come with surprising third place finishes for Senator Hillary Clinton and former Senator Fred Thompson. [Ed. Note: Frogger maybe misses on Edwards, but check out what he said last Feb. 25 when he said the Hillary Clinton campaign was made of straw and would go nowhere. At the time, she was almost being annointed the winner. And read the comments from others in Ohio -- including Redhorse in Akron -- who saw Huckabee as a stronger candidate than many believed at the time.]
Ms. Clinton received barely more than half the delegates awarded each to Edwards and Obama, raising questions about what was once her front runner status in the Democratic race. Thompson, conversely seems to have benefited by latent dissatisfaction among Iowa Republicans with both Huckabee and Romney in the campaign’s final days. Former Congressman Ron Paul finished a strong fourth place. Challengers Rudy Guliani and John McCain finished well behind the top four, but each of those respective camps expressed lack of concern or surprise with the results.
froggermarch analysis: The subheading is far more important than the headline. Romney and Obama could switch positions in the above story and not have a great deal of effect on the impact of the Iowa caucuses. In fact, truth be told, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Romney edge out Huckabee, fueled by paid organizers and essentially paid voters. Still, I called this for Huckabee a year ago, when it was by no means a popular pick, and I feel I should stick with that now. On the Democratic side, a marginal differential between Obama and Edwards will pale in significance next to a poor third place finish for Hillary.
So why the dire prediction for the Senator from New York? Well, first of all, I don’t think it is necessarily dire. In just a few days in New Hampshire, she will do much better and be able to say she is the second “Comeback Clinton”. She’s in it for the long haul and she can bounce back playing the underdog role easier than she could carry the front runner mantle for the long haul. But Edwards’ knowledge of and organization in Iowa is well-documented and has real legs. While there have been early indications of a significant turnout among independents that could benefit Obama (but NOT Clinton), the partisans of the Iowa Democratic Party more often than not will carry the day, and they are aligned most closely with Edwards. Secondly, supporters of Richardson, Biden, Dodd and Kucinich have by definition decided that they are NOT backers of Hillary. It says here that as you tune in to YouTube, you will see very few of those folks who can not muster 15 per cent for their second-tier candidates will then move to the Clinton part of the room. The other effect of that dynamic will be that both Obama and Edwards will get a higher percentage of the delegates than has been flashed in poll results on the teevee screens over the past thousand or two months. Look for something like 38%-36%-21%-3%-2%. Remember, we are talking about delegates, not votes here.
What will all that mean? Well, let’s save that for the New Hampshire pre-headlines. I mean, I could very well be REALLY wrong.