Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee outdid more established rivals to win the Iowa caucuses Thursday night. Obama delivered a setback to longtime front-runner Hillary Clinton by winning over young voters and independents with his message of change, and Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, tapped into evangelical fervor to overcome former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s huge spending advantage. (Los Angeles Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
“This is a huge moment,” said David Brooks in The New York Times (free registration). Huckabee’s victory with a call for a “conservatism that pays attention to people making less than $50,000 a year” could pave the way for a new GOP coalition. And “you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved” by Obama’s win. “When an African-American man is leading a juggernaut to the White House, do you want to be the one to stand up and say No?”
There’s no question these two “remarkable victories” amount to a “repudiation” of the establishment picks in favor of “fresh faces,” said USA Today in an editorial. But don’t read too much into Iowa—its caucuses are “hardly representative, absurdly expensive and excessively analyzed.” At best, this year’s year’s circus—which was bigger and more expensive than ever—narrowed the field by pointing out the laggards, like the GOP’s Fred Thompson and Democrats Chris Dodd and Joe Biden.
One caucus does not a realignment make,” said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post (free registration). But there was a hint of revolutionary change in the victory of an evangelical darling like Huckabee over “a former governor who played an inside game” with money to burn. And with young voters and independents “flocking” behind Obama’s theme of ending partisan divisions could spell big trouble for Clinton—and for the Republican nominee in the fall.
The turnout tells the story, said David Yepsen in his Des Moines Register blog. More than twice as many Democrats than Republicans showed up, a clear sign that “Democrats are enjoying more energy and their candidates attracting more support and attention than the Republicans.”