Friday, January 04, 2008

A good night in Iowa 

I agree with Cockburn and St. Clair:


A Good Night in Iowa


For the party establishments--Democratic and Republican--it was a bad night, as their favored candidates went down to severe defeat. With Barack Obama's crushing victory over Hillary Clinton, the campaign scenario of the Democratic elite is now in the trash bin. Their calculation had been that Obama would never be able to match the Clintons' fundraising. Wrong... Mrs. Clinton had the big feminist organizations in her corner and a good chunk of organized labor. They didn't deliver, any more than the Democratic machine supervised by campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe and super-pollster Mark Penn...

...Obama was able to expand the electorate, an unprecedented feat in the history of Iowa caucuses... The three main issues on voters' minds were, in descending order, the war, the economy and health care. Obama led in all three. Overall, he beat Hillary among both men and women. He took the five biggest cities and most of the counties in every quarter of the state... Young voters see Obama as a break with the past, and he skillfully manages to avoid any substantive positioning that might disabuse them of this belief. As much as the press tried to say that the war is no longer an issue, it turned to be the top concern of the voters, and Obama's record features opposition to the war in his Senate campaign in 2004. Clinton and Edwards both voted for the war. Edwards apologized for that vote. Clinton never did...

...on the Republican side Mike Huckabee sank the hopes of Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment in part because of his far more persuasive version of economic populism. Of course, he did rally the evangelical Christians, but it's foolish to see this as evidence only of Bible thumpers on the march. In Iowa, Huckabee's votes came from the Republican underclass: formerly independent farmers and, more broadly, working class, church-going folks. The wisdom had been that a Republican candidate would ride to victory by swearing to seal the southern border, cut taxes, and go to war on Iran. Huckabee's substantive record is one of tolerance toward immigrants, compassion toward convicted criminals, and straightforward abolition of the most hated agency in the United States--the IRS--with installation of a sales tax, whose regressive features would be balanced by rebates to the poor.

Romney is on the ropes... the Republican establishment is regrouping round John McCain, never their favorite... The press did its best to finish off Huckabee, but their brickbats bounced off the ebullient governor. The press also did its best to black out Ron Paul. Though CNN's pie chart of the Democratic candidates dutifully recorded Bill Richardson's fractional crumb of support, its pie chart of Republican candidates carefully shut out Paul's 10 per cent, a respectable performance for an anti-war candidate running in a pro-war party. He can look for a good showing in New Hampshire among independents...


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