Friday, January 04, 2008

The top election stories

By Carol Gee

For a very good round-up of the top stories on the stunning results of the Iowa presidential caucuses, go to Memeorandum. With a little passage of time we will all gain a bit of perspective on what a bit deal this is, but here are just a few initial reactions from sources and folks whose opinions I often seek out.

Firedoglake's "Scarecrow" said "Well Done, Iowa." Friday January 4, 2008 5:00 am. To quote:

No matter whom you supported in last night's Iowa caucuses, I think all Democrats and more than a few Independents will be saying "thank you, Iowans" this morning, not for the specific choices they made -- many may disagree -- but for the process they used. Iowa did a great job helping the whole country sort out the choices for President.

And Iowans did it with impressive numbers. Over 236,000 Iowan's turned out in bitter cold to participate in the Democratic caucuses, nearly 90 percent more than 2004, and as Howard Dean noted on CNN, about twice as many as participated in the Republican caucus. There were record numbers of first time participants, and large increases in women and young voters.

TPM Election Central -- "Entrance Poll: Obama Won On High Turnout — And Edwards Lost," by By Eric Kleefeld - January 4, 2008, 1:44AM To quote:

An astonishing 57% of caucusers were first-time participants.

. . . This tells us two things. First, Obama's strategy of bringing in new caucus-goers worked, the first time in recent history where such a strategy actually did so in the caucus. It's a big change from when Howard Dean tried it with less than impressive results. As for Edwards, his problem was that he fought the last war — if the caucus' turnout had been more like 2004, he may well have been the winner.

The "Delivering," by Matthew Yglesias -- To quote:

I think the manner of Barack Obama's win is pretty impressive. I can't be the only one who was a bit inclined toward a cynical roll of the eyes at the idea of winning on the back of unprecedented turnout, mobilizing new voters, brining in young people, etc. That sounds like the kind of thing that people say they're going to do but never deliver on. But he did deliver. That's impressive.

The Carpetbagger Report's Steve Benen put it this way -- "Obama’s big win: A game-changer." Posted January 4th, 2008 at 8:44 am. To quote:

At the outset, let me concede that all the usual caveats still apply. Iowa is just one state; last night was just one contest; there’s a lot of campaigning left to do; the pressure and scrutiny from here on out is going to be extremely intense; and the rest of the strong Democratic field isn’t about to give up without a fight.

Having said all that, I think Barack Obama’s eight-point victory is every bit as remarkable as it seems, if not more so. This just wasn’t an ordinary caucus victory; it was history.

A young, African-American, first-term senator from a big city went to Iowa — an overwhelmingly white, rural state, with a large elderly population — trailed most of the year, and delivered a bigger win than anyone expected.

Reuters and Yahoo! News -- "Dodd and Biden drop out of White House race." To quote:

Veteran U.S. Sens. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropped out of the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday after placing a distant fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Iowa caucuses.

. . . they came up far short in the race for the White House with polls showing Americans demanding change.

"This evening Democrats sent a clear message that this party is united in our belief that our nation needs change to restore our security, our middle class and all that makes this country great," Dodd, 63, told supporters in conceding defeat.

Biden, 65 -- buoyed in recent days by big crowds and an increase in campaign donations -- said earlier he intended to stick in the race at least until the end of the month. But after the Iowa votes were in, he was out. -- "Obama targets Hillary in N.H." By: Roger Simon Jan 4, 2008 06:02 AM EST. To quote:

“We assume Hillary will go negative on us and run negative ads against us,” a senior Obama adviser told me.

“But if we win New Hampshire and South Carolina, it will be hard for her to stop us from getting the nomination.”

New York Times, (election round-up)

and "Obama Takes Iowa in a Big Turnout as Clinton Falters; Huckabee Victor," by Adam Nagourney -- Jan. 4, 2008. To quote:

The victory by Mr. Obama, 46, amounted to a startling setback for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, 60, of New York, who just months ago presented herself as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

. . . On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who was barely a blip on the national scene just two months ago, defeated Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, delivering a serious setback to Mr. Romney’s high-spending campaign and putting pressure on Mr. Romney to win in New Hampshire next Tuesday.

Washington Post -- " Hillary Clinton - Acknowledging Change in the Air," By Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writers. Friday, January 4, 2008. To quote:

Clinton appeared last night to embrace a message of change even as she held fast to her contention that only she is ready for the presidency.

"We're sending a clear message that we are going to have change, and that change will be a Democratic president in the White House in 2009," she told supporters as she conceded to Barack Obama. But she added: "What is most important now is . . . how will we win in November 2008 by nominating a candidate that will be able to go the distance? And who will be the best president on Day One? I am ready for that contest."

Both Clinton and her husband attempted to console downcast staff members in Des Moines last night.

My own thoughts -- This is a big deal and it is a good deal, because citizens in Iowa honored the process and went in on faith (no pun intended for you Republicans). First timers plunged in and said "Yes, I believe in America once again." The remainder of the process needs to be honored also, as Tom Brokaw reminded us on MSNBC last night. I paraphrase what he said. Not just Iowans need to be heard here. Other states have a right to weigh in in due time. I believe in the voters' ability to get up, get mad, and get going. And boy, oh, boy! Have they started. More later.

Cross-posted at South by Southwest

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