by Brent Moritz
Well, the Iowa Caucuses have come and we are beginning to see some of the results. First, this is part of American democracy in action: Regardless of your political leanings it is a good thing to see an African American carry the state for his party, and even more remarkable is the fact that Obama and Clinton together garnered 2/3 of those votes.
On the Republican side, in a previous post I mentioned that while it would be nice for Romney to win, he did not have to do so. Given the high numbers of evangelical conservatives that hit the polls, it is not too surprising that Huckabee did so well. In part, Romney's work at courting the evangelical vote was countered by the sudden and unexpected rise of Huckabee, a Baptist minister who naturally would have the support of many of the social conservatives.
The last minister to do so well in Iowa was Pat Robertson in 1988 with his second place finish. Another Pat (Buchanan) did very well in 1996 and nearly carried. Both of these candidates were excited about their performance and seemingly gained momentum heading into the other primaries. Yet over time, both of these candidacies faltered because their message only appealed to a small segment of Iowa voters and they did not fare nearly as well in a national campaign.
Huckabee did better than I expected, but still only gathered 1/3 of the Republican vote. Romney came in at 1/4 of the Republican vote and is in position to come in second again in New Hampshire. It is also interesting that McCain came in fourth, even though he has strong name recognition and caucused strongly in Iowa in previous years. Admittedly, McCain has focused more on New Hampshire this year, but real test will begin after that primary as non-viable candidates will drop to the sidelines over the coming weeks.