Friday, January 04, 2008

A Huge Win


He didn't just beat Clinton and Edwards. In a seemingly close contest, he destroyed them. I have yet to read the day's analysis so the following thoughts are my own (with some help from CNN's coverage last night).

The Race Factor

As was said repeatedly on CNN last night, the fact that a black man could beat out Edwards by 8 points and Clinton by 9 in a 97% white state says good things about America and about his chances. The going theory has been that blacks (in the south) have been reluctant to support Obama because they don't know if he can win the general election. I'd say that fear has been resoundedly put down. A trouncing on this magnitude should mean a significant bounce for Obama's black support and that means very good things for South Carolina (to start).

The Independent Factor

Last night's results also show that Hillary Clinton is just as polarizing as everyone expected (at least in Iowa). She pulled her support primarily from older, core democrats while Obama tapped into the under 30 crowd and, notably, won about 60% of the independents and even pulled moderate republicans. In a race in which "healing the nation" from partisanship is becoming an increasingly popular theme, this is very bad news for Clinton.

The speeches

Edwards came first. He gave a fiery, combative speech that I found extremely effective. It was so strong I was concerned that Obama wouldn't top it. I shouldn't have worried.

Clinton's speech was a sad, emotionless, stump speech that had Bill looking defeated (although the crazy looking, shifty eyed guy behind her seemed to like it). In fact, after seeing that speech, I really have to wonder if she can mount any challenge after this. She looked D-O-N-E and this was only one state. Now, maybe she was just tired and disappointed. Who knows. But defeat was written across her face and she said nothing even remotely inspiring.

Obama's speech, on the other hand, was empassioned and brought forth memories of MLK (CNN's comparison that I'm adopting). It was a moving speech, although not particularly substantive (none of them are at this point). What I thought most telling between the two, however, was that Obama has cadence, a natural sense of when to pause for applause, and fed off the crowd. Hillary's speech looked like she had dinner reservations and needed to hurry. I know that it has been said often that Obama is the better speaker (and Hillary the better debater) but I had never seen such a vast difference between the two until last night. Obama made Hillary look like a first time speaker. Watch for yourself, I think it's more than worth it (and I don't often make such a claim so you should immediately click the link and watch the damn video!).

Big Picture

A very smart gentleman on CNN's staff (John something) made what was, without a doubt, the smartest comment of the night. He stated that to win an election there are essentially tactics and strategy. Tactics refers to things like Get Out The Vote while strategy refers to speech giving, advertisements, and message. Hillary's campaign, up until now, has largely been based on tactics while Obama has been based on strategy. Last night, Obama absolutely trounced Hillary on the tactics as well as the strategy (the legions of young voters that are "unreliable" but actually turned out, for example). The question then is where does this leave Hillary? She's already losing the strategic/message based fight (she's running on experience which Iowa voters largely ignored as a selection factor) and she just got outfoxed on the tactics. In other words, from a meta-strategic level, she's in trouble.

More than that though, both Edwards and Obama (and Huckabee, to be fair) made the very clear point that Iowa decided that it was time for fresh faces. The repudiation of Hillary was a clear spanking because, as David Gergan said, 70% of the participants in the Democratic primary voted against her core of strength of experience. Or, to put it the other way, 70% of voters preferred a fresh face with fresh ideas over someone steeped in Washington for the last 15 years. This trend carried forth over on the GOP side as well to some extend and it appears to be a national trend. This bodes well for Obama.

What is next

It's incredibly difficult to predict what will happen in New Hampshire as the people there have an almost obsessive desire to be more "independent" than the rest of the nation. However, the short time between the two elections (5 days) and the natural bump that Obama will get from Iowa may propel him forward. This is sheer speculation, but if he wins NH, that could very well be the end of the Clinton candidacy. Her entire campaign up to this point has been based on two factors: she's "more" experienced and she's the inevitable winner. Both of those ideas were severely injured last night. A second consecutive win for Obama would probably ruin whatever hopes she has. (And rightfully so. They were stupid things to base a campaign on.)

As to Edwards, I've never believed he had much of a shot and last night somewhat bolsters my claim. He had invested heavily in Iowa, moreso than any other candidate and he didn't win. If he hopes to have any chance, he's got to place in the top-2 in NH and then hope to win SC. I don't see that happening. Maybe he'll be the VP.


You know, if he wasn't so apeshit crazy, I'd be a bit worried. Because he is just a down home country as Bill Clinton and George Bush. But, he's crazier than shit and that will ruin him if he gets the nomination (he stands by his belief that AIDS can be transmitted in the air, for example).

That being said, last night was a disaster for Romney. He had to win and didn't. If he loses again, well, it won't be good for his chances.

Pundits are going to talk an awful lot about Huckabee and the rest in the next few days but I'm going to mostly ignore it. I expect McCain to win NH but that doesn't mean much. The guy is 71 and is starting to look like the Emperor from Star Wars and won't even answer the question if he would be able to serve 8 years as president. Guiliani has adopted what can only be described as Jack Nicholson's laugh from the Shining and he will soon be out of the race (it's not a good thing when the more people get to know you, the less they like you). Fred Thompson is already trying to get back on Law and Order. In the end, the GOP needs Romney because he's the only guy that doesn't have a foot in the grave, isn't an alien, or isn't apeshit crazy...even if he is the worst flip-flopper in recent memory.

At any rate, the GOP is going to lose the next election so my interest in their candidates has yet to really pick up.


It was a very good night for America. As a whole, the state of Iowa said that they want change and reconciliation in Washington (as generic and stupid as that sounds, it is true) and I believe that no matter who wins the election, that message will be a resonating theme across the political spectrum which might actually help some good things happen (like health care for everyone).

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Obama won the women vote in Iowa as well which was always considered Hillary's Ace in the Hole.



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