On The Iowa Results

After all the talk, all the ads, and all the hours spent in Iowa diners, it was finally game on in the Cornhusker last night. Here’s how it broke down,

Incidentally, my predictions from yesterday were pretty close, although Fred did a little better than I thought he would and McCain did a little worse,

Republican

1) Mike Huckabee
2) Mitt Romney
3) John McCain
4) Fred Thompson
5) Ron Paul
6) Rudy Giuliani

Democrats

1) Barack Obama
2) John Edwards
3) Hillary Clinton

Now, what does it all mean?

The Republicans

Well, Huckabee had to win in Iowa — and he did so rather convincingly. Unfortunately for him, McCain and Romney have been slugging it out in first place far ahead of him in New Hampshire, so he probably won’t be able to turn this into a slingshot to propel himself to the nomination — which makes Michigan huge for him.

After losing Iowa, Romney is now in a dangerous position because McCain is beating him in New Hampshire and there’s not much time left. If Romney loses Iowa and New Hampshire, that will probably make a victory in Michigan an uphill fight. If he loses them all, then he probably won’t get a win before Super Tuesday and this could very easily turn into a Huckabee vs. McCain fight with Mitt left on the outside looking in.

Fred Thompson did manage to capture third place, but it was a weak third place just ahead of McCain and his numbers are terrible in New Hampshire and Michigan. So, what he needs to do is defy expectations, particularly in Michigan and keep on keeping on, waiting for other candidates to fold, which may be difficult if he doesn’t even go as high as third place again until South Carolina.

John McCain finished in a very close 4th place, which isn’t horrible given that he didn’t spend a lot of time there. However, the key for McCain is New Hampshire. If he wins there — and he may — his campaign will catch fire. He may have the horses to pull it off since his liberal pals in the mainstream media are cheering him on at the top of their lungs, but time will tell.

Ron Paul took 5th place, but cracked double digits and pulled 10%. They’ll probably claim that as a moral victory — but it’s not. When you have a $19 million third quarter and your own blimp, finishing 5th in a 7 man race is pretty unimpressive.

Rudy, who spent very little time campaigning in Iowa, finished 6th, which again shows how weak his strategy is. He doesn’t have great national numbers any more and he will have to endure poor showings in 5 states before he comes to his “firewall” in Florida. Will his “firewall” still be standing by then? Doubt it. He’s a longshot at this point and better hope that McCain folds and his supporters migrate to camp Rudy.

My former employer Duncan Hunter did gather a few votes, but statistically pulled a zero. Sigh.

The Democrats

Obama won a huge victory in Iowa in more ways than one. Not only did he win the state, he put himself right back in the hunt in New Hampshire, where Hillary looks to have pulled ahead by a nose. If Obama can beat the wicked witch of New York in New Hampshire, too, she’ll be in serious trouble — but we’ll have to see how much of an impact Barack’s win and Hill’s third place finish has on the New Hampshire race.

John Edwards squeaked out a 2nd place finish, but that’s probably not enough. He is in third place in New Hampshire and not doing as well in other states. Given his financial situation, if he loses in New Hampshire, which he probably will, he’s done. Whether he will drop out at that point, which would probably give Obama a huge boost, is unknown, but he might as well.

Well, what do you know? Little Miss “Inevitable” just finished third in the first state. Ah, the sweet, sweet joy of watching the politician who has everything handed to her on a silver platter because of her husband, taste defeat — even if it is at the hands of another Democrat.

But Hill is still in it and New Hampshire is going to be crucial for her. If she goes on to win there, and she very well may, she should be on more solid footing in Michigan and Nevada, where she’ll be hoping to steamroll Obama and get back her “inevitable” vibe.

Update #1: JM sent an email with the following comment about Thompson,

You wrote: “So, what he needs to do is defy expectations, particularly in Michigan and keep on keeping on, waiting for other candidates to fold, which may be difficult if he doesn’t even go as high as third place again until South Carolina.”

My bet: he doesn’t need NH or MI to do well in SC. I have no ties to the campaign or inside info, but I assume he’ll replicate the IA bus tour in SC — which is much more hospitable to his message. Comparisons to the past are useful, but NH has moved left so probably doesn’t have the same weight as it used to.

Thompson doesn’t need NH or MI to do well in SC, per se. However, momentum is a big factor at this point. If people think a candidate can’t win, they won’t give him money, they won’t volunteer, and they’ll shift their vote to another candidate.

If Thompson finishes 3rd in Iowa and then, let’s say 6th place in NH and MI, which is possible given how bad his numbers are there, the press is going to declare him dead and then will he be able to raise money? Will his supporters say, “I like Fred best, but he can’t win, so I am going to vote for candidate X instead so my vote will count?”

And SC is a very competitive state at the moment with Huckabee on top, Romney in 2nd, and McCain, Giulaini, and Thompson fighting it out for third. If Thompson tanks in the states before SC, he probably finishes in 5th place — and if he does that poorly in SC, you have to ask, where can he win?

So, Fred is still in it, still can win, and I would recommend that you donate some money to him and visit his website to volunteer for his campaign.

But, do understand he still has a tough road to travel if he’s going to get the nomination. Know that and push for him anyway so that in 2008, either you’ll have a candidate that you can proudly support or you’ll at least be able to say, “If we’d selected a Reagan Republican like Thompson, we wouldn’t be having these kind of problems.”

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