Friday, January 04, 2008

The Obama Phenomenon

The BBC's James Coomerasamy, who has been covering with distinction the Iowa presidential caucuses for BBC World Service Radio and BBC America News, reported early this morning that the chief lesson of last night is the huge turn-out of Independents and fallen-away Republicans for the Democratic victor, Barack Obama.

Our own Iowa sources confirm this. Precinct chairmen called to tell us that nearly fifty percent of the record-breaking turn-out they saw at local party caucuses were there to register as Democrats for the first time ever. "I've never seen so many Independents and Republicans," Democratic precinct chairman Roger Kuhle said. "Almost all of them went for Obama. They were genuinely enthusiastic."

The numbers verify the anecdotal reports. In 2000, the last time there wasn't an incumbent president running for reelection, 60,760 Iowans attended the Democratic Party caucuses. The best Democratic turnout in state history was just 125,000 in 1988.

By contrast, last night over 234,000 Iowans braved sub-freezing weather to attend the Democratic caucuses. That's nearly twice as many as in state history.

As the Des Moines Register's respected Iowa Poll foresaw shortly beforehand, likely "60 percent of Democratic caucus goers " were first-time attendees and "72 percent of Obama's support" came from those first-timers.

It was because of that record-breaking turn-out, as Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson reports, that Obama beat Hillary "eight ways to Sunday."
He edged her out among Democrats 32/31, and cleaned her clock among independents (44/17) and wayward Republicans (41/10). He beat her among people making less than $15,000 (37/30) and more than $100,000 (41/19). He beat her among health-care voters (34/30) and suburban voters (30/25).

Most astounding however, he beat her among her core supporters, women, by five points. What more can I say than — in a night of mind boggling statistics — that that’s the stat of the night.

A black man did this. In a state that’s 96 percent white. This is truly a historic night in America.
Of course, Iowa is only the start of the presidential primary process, not the end. Regardless of Iowa, or New Hampshire or South Carolina for that matter, as Josh Marshall acutely observes, Hillary isn't going away any time soon.

Nor, it would seem, is John Edwards.

Once again, the Iowa caucuses have defeated conventional beltway wisdom and given the nation good cause to rethink who it is we really want to lead our nation.

1 comment:

panicbean said...

We, dh and I, feel hard pressed between Obama and Edwards, but we end up supporting Edwards, because it is way past the time to negotiate and to even think that common ground will be in our future.

The Republicans are going to fight tooth and nail, especially after an 8 year run of Bush and tax cuts, as well as gutting every government agency they could. Why would they want to return to a government that is run by rules and in line with the Constitution? If Obama wins, we certainly wish him the best, and will work hard to get him elected. But the stars in his eyes will vanish shortly following his first few months in office.

We need a candidate who recognizes the fact that we are in the fight of our lives, for our country, and for the working middle class, who have always been the backbone of our culture, and our tax base. We are a dying breed, being killed off by our own government.

Edwards is it. Too bad for America if we miss out on him.