Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa caucus random wrap-up

For people who appreciate the finer points, here are a couple of additional decimal places:

Obama: 37.58%
Edwards: 29.75%
Clinton: 29.47%
Richardson: 2.11%
Biden: .93%
Uncommitted: .14%
Dodd: 0.02

That rounds out to Obama 38%, Edwards 30%, and Clinton 29%. Or, if you care about the delegate count (which you should, even though the establishment media won’t), Obama 16, Edwards 15, and Clinton 14. . . I think (it’s complicated).

Dodd and Biden have withdrawn from the race; Richardson vows to fight on.

I’ll admit that I am not filled with unbridled joy by the “Obama wins” headlines, but I can’t help but feel great about the overwhelming turnout of Democratic voters—212,000, up from 125,000 four years ago. And 22% of those caucus goers were under 30, which outperforms their demographic representation by a few percentage points, and establishment expectations by leaps and bounds. Congratulations all around—now y’all better show up for the November general!

More numbers: All three of the top Democrats garnered more votes than Republican winner Mike Huckabee.

Of course, how does the New York Times cover the events of Thursday night? The headlines evolve as the morning wears on, but they continue to echo the same theme: “Obama takes Iowa. . . Clinton falters.” Times writers have apparently been freed from their roughly one-week-long requirement to cover the “strident populism” of John Edwards.

Indeed, most of what I have read and heard this morning seem, dare I say, pathetically over-eager to relieve the reporters and their outlets of the “burden” of having to cover a three-way race. After all, there are only two fighters in a boxing ring or two teams in a professional sporting match; three is just so complicated!

Indeed, it might come as a shock to the establishment media, but this is the beginning and not the end of the primary election cycle, so today’s assessments are more post-partum than post-mortem. Still, I like what Ezra Klein has to say:

The talking heads on MSNBC just spent a few minutes puzzling over John Edwards' concession speech. "It had no concession," they fretted. It didn't talk at all about the horserace, or the vote totals. Instead, Edwards spoke of the downtrodden, the uninsured, the insecure, the exploited, the oppressed, the wronged, the scared, the hungry, the homeless, and the poor. It was a fitting speech. It was not about the candidate or the race, but about the ideas, and the individuals they are supposed to help. In that way, it was Edwards' candidacy distilled to its core: A search for justice, a cry for equality, a demand for empowerment.

Barack Obama won tonight, but, in a sense, John Edwards' campaign also triumphed. The progressivism of the race, the focus on ideas, the courage of the Democrats -- all were products of his early example. He began the campaign by talking about poverty, announced his candidacy in the mud of New Orleans, set the agenda with the first universal health care bill, and closed Iowa speaking of the uninsured. This is Barack Obama's victory, and it's richly deserved. But Edwards, running as a full-throated populist, set the agenda and finished second, ahead of the Clinton juggernaut. He said his role was to speak for the voiceless. He now barrels towards New Hampshire with ever more volume. And while his shot at the nomination is long at best, his candidacy, even if it fails, will have been far more successful than most.

Time Magazine also sees some life left in the Edwards campaign.

BBC Radio is leading with two stories this morning: The Iowa Caucuses and Britney Spears. (I kid you not.)

Oh, and, lookie here, NPR’s Morning Edition uses Chris Lehane as their Democratic analyst opposite Republican Mike Murphy—without disclosing that Lehane is an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign (and, if you have any doubt about his affinities, just listen to him spin).

As for personal spin: I was correct in predicting Clinton’s third place finish, and was also right on the money with McCain’s 13%. If I had anything else to trumpet, you know I’d be trumpeting—read that as you must.

More on Mr. 13%: It looks like Senator John “asshole” McCain has earned himself a revised nickname: The Hundred Years’ Asshole.

And, finally, I watched all of the speeches, victory and otherwise, on CSPAN, and was amused by what various candidates chose as their walk-off music. For instance, Edwards went with Bruce Springsteen ("The Rising"), and Obama went with Stevie Wonder ("Signed, Sealed, Delivered"), but was that John Philip Sousa’s "Liberty Bell March" that I heard as Mike Huckabee stepped from the stage? You say you’re not familiar with the "Liberty Bell March?" I bet you are.

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

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