Alright, the 2008 Iowa Caucus is over, and the voters have spoken. To Huckabee supporters, Congrats. You guys won, and it is only fair that you recieve recognition for your hard work. To the Romney supporters, yes, we lost. We’ve had a day to lick our wounds, and, if we want to get the Romney campaign back on track, I suggest that we recognize that nothing is going to change about the Iowa results, and that we need to move on. Below is my analysis of the Iowa results and my take on the New Hampshire Primary.
Mike Huckabee won Iowa – there is no changing that, and there is no point in dwelling on it. Firstly, a bit of good news for the Romney supporters:
Of the three things we were look for to happen in IA, we got two of them. Obama won the Democratic Caucus, which will drive independents who might otherwise support McCain into the arms of the DEMs. That helps Romney. Secondly, McCain came in fourth place, which will make it harder to come out claiming victory – particularly since it is an extremely distant fourth, with McCain getting only half of the votes of Romney. So, what didn’t we get? Well, that obvious, Romney didn’t win.
Now, about the results themselves. Huckabee was able win because of two key things: He had a natural appeal to particular kind of voter, and that kind of voter is the common breed in IA. As a Baptist Minister from that South, Huckabee was able to tap into the 60% of Iowans who are self-described “Evangelicals” and “Fundamentalists”. To these people, abortion and marriage are the primary issues, and Huck is deffinately the candidate with the strongest position in that area. Romney suffered from distrust of his faith and the fact that he was not anything close to a local. In fact, when you consider that Romney is Mormon, from the Northeast, and has a record that is more geared towards fiscal conservatism than social conservatism, it is impressive that he got as many votes as he did. Romney has already done what every supporter of his campaign needs to do: Admit defeat, pick yourself up, and look towards New Hampshire.
We are quickly closing in on the Granite State’s primary, and Romney may or may not have re-gained his lead there. Some will talk of a boost for McCain or Huckabee, but I don’t see anything major happening. I might be wrong, of course, but I don’t think I am. It seems unlikely to me that Mike Huckabee will be able to tune his message of social conservatism, populism, and class-warfare into a message of fiscal conservatism, executive leadership, and military strength in such a short amount of time. New Hampshire is a poor fit for Huckabee. As for a boost for McCain, it is possible, but again, I don’t think so. Firstly, Independents will trend towards the Democrats this primary, so McCain is not going to get as many of their votes. Secondly, I am told that NH independents are not huge supporters of the war right now, further reducing McCain’s ability to capitalize on his former base. Thirdly, it will be hard for McCain – who came in fourth, and only slightly ahead of Ron Paul – to claim victory. Even if he does, it will be hard to explain to the average voter why fourth is more important than first, second, or third. Finally, I don’t see a huge movement towards McCain. There are two groups you can get a boost from: supporters of other candidates, or undecideds. Supporters of other candidates looking to stop Huckabee are not going to be moving to a man who only got 1/3 of Huck’s support as their candidate, and Romney supporters are some of the most dedicated people after Paulnuts. The idea that Romeny supporters would switch loyalty to their politcal archrival within the GOP because it looks like he has a better shot, is, quite simply, absurd. Some undecideds might look at McCain, but again, he is going to have a hard time explaining why a fourth-place finish is something to cheer about for the man once expected to run away with the nomination. McCain’s support for Amnesty and his opposition to the Bush Tax Cuts are also not going to make him immediately popular among those in a highly anti-tax state.
I cannot say that Romney will win, nor that he will lose, in either case, nothing is gaurenteed. What I can say is this: New Hampshire is likely to do exactly what it has done for many of the previous presidential elections – completely undo the Iowa Results, which a much more lasting effect.
Two more things
1) The Wyoming Primary is tomorrow, and Romney is expected to win that one. Its likely that Romney will lead in total delegates after tomorrow night – because he picked up a fair number in Iowa.