Friday, January 04, 2008

The Iowa Caucuses

Since you're reading a political blog you probably already know the results of the Iowa caucuses, Obama and Huckabee winning with fair margins over their nearest competitors. Much was made in the news about the size of the Democratic turn out and the evident influence of Independents and new caucusers. With single digit percentage presence, Independents were not that large a factor, but new caucusers were. A high percentage of these new people were in the 17-25 age group and Obama garnered a large percentage of this group. On the Republican side a large percentage of self-identified Evangelicals showed up and Huckabee took around 85% of that group. On the Democratic side some of these results may or may not be replicable for the candidate. One must remember that the caucuses are a small percentage of a voter turn out and a dedicated minority can have out sized effects. The results may easily not be statistically relevant to other elections. On the Republican side with few new caucusers the results may be much more relevant, though narrowly in the regard to population density of Evangelicals or similar groups.

Things start to get interesting when you look at candidates without large percentage of new voters, while still qualifying the look with the fact that caucusers are a more dedicated slice of the voters. These caucusers being more ordinarily present and in play did not go for the Clinton campaign any more meaningfully than the did for Obama and Edwards. What makes this interesting is that polling had showed Hillary with a large lead over the other candidates nationally and generally in individual states, including Iowa before campaigning really got under way. With extended exposure to dedicated voters Hillary's support seems to go down, as evidenced in Iowa and seems to be occurring in New Hampshire. It is possible that some of the Clinton early support came from a desire to back a winner and the media obsession with "Clinton inevitability" which seems to wear off with exposure and the rise of other viable candidates. The steady showing of support by over half the polled individuals for candidates other than Clinton may also have had an effect.

Trying to expand prairie Iowa's caucus results to other states would be a risky endeavor, but a couple things are sure. A third place finish in a state worked hard by the Clinton campaign directly contradicts the aura of invincibility, the results may be subject to spin, but third is a loss in any state's voter's mind. How large an effect is nothing more than guess work because it would be necessary to know polled individual's motivations and strength of commitment. The media now sees a dogfight, a much more interesting prospect than a walk over. The result may be more attention to all remaining candidates, one can only hope.


KISS said...

I am disappointed that Edwards did not do better.
The great news is dimmos had twice the voters than repugs.
New Hampshire is the big prize, for sure. Hillary will work her ass off to beat Obama and Edwards will be a third, again. Money does make a difference, sadly to say.
Huckabee may be in for a not too pleasant surprise. This may be McCain's last Hurrah.
I'm not certain if unions are strong in New Hampshire, and that is Edwards only hope.

Chuck Butcher said...

I don't think there is any real problem with that analysis. I guess it's time to send Edwards some bucks.

Steve Culley said...

As Lou Dobbs says "we have the best government money can buy". Iowa, on the surface, seems to say something different. The big money campaigns lost. But we will see in New Hampshire. After Super Tuesday I think some real hard questions will have to be asked of the candidiates. Washington D.C. versus Heller will or should, push the gun issue to front and center. Immigration, anchor babies and border security will be there and depending on how well the Sunni "awakening councils" are integrated into the Iraqi security forces Iraq will be an issue. It will be spring in Afghanistan and that war will heat up. The U.S. could be in recession by then.
After Viet Nam there was a push to let 18 year olds vote. I couldn't vote until a year after I came home. I never saw young people interested in anything but themselves since Viet Nam faded into history, I guess they played a part in Iowa but I have real doubts about them being an influence in this coming election. They are not threatened by a draft and long term issues about social security or the decline of econimic America can't compete with news of Britney Spears.
Obama runs on reconciliation but when the issues I mentioned above, plus ones like abortion, gay marriage, and who would you like to appoint to the Supreme Court are asked the illusion of a United Country will fade away. Power is always the prize in elections and in the general election, with only two choices there will be obviuos differences between the hopefuls.
That said. This is the best election I have ever seen. The choices are still the same, left wing or right wing, but we have a lot of choices.

Chuck Butcher said...

I don't agree about left wing, Steve, Hillary is a left republican, Obmama is a centrist from the word go, except guns, Edwards is barely left of center, Kucinich is left and he's going nowhere.

I'll make no comments on the R side other than Huck being the most left of the bunch.

Steve said...

The guns part, identifies him as a lefty.

Chuck Butcher said...

No it marks him as an authoritarian, that's a different thing. It can be right, left, or center.

Steve Culley said...

I guess I would agree with that Chuck, real fight this time is between authoritarians and liberty, globalists versus the American. Could eventaully get messy and the second might come in. Hope I get this right, Obama has an F- minus rating from gun groups, wouldn't be good to have that mentality in the White House if Washington DC vs heller goes wrong, could end up seeing what a "well regulated milita" really is.