Thursday, January 3, 2008

Barack Obama Wins Iowa With a Message of Hope

With the votes almost all counted, and the speeches given and the Democratic field winnowed (Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have already dropped out as has Mike Gravel) it is a huge night not just for Barack Obama, but for America. As Obama said in his fantastic victory speech, tonight was a night about hope and a vision for the future. A vision for a united America. One that Obama can bring together and Clinton can't.

If you look at the raw numbers, it's amazing. Obama defeated Hillary Clinton by 9-points, and Edwards by 8 (a 38-30-29 victory). As much as was made about it being a three-way race, Obama didn't just win, he won in as much of a blowout as you were going to see tonight. The turnout was well north of 230,000, almost doubling the 2004 caucuses, and a lot of that was because of Obama's appeal to independent voters and Republicans. And that appeal goes central to electability, and how Obama is the most electable Democratic candidate because he doesn't just get the Democratic support, he expands the Democratic Party and gets support from all walks of life, all ideologies. And according to MSNBC's exit and entrance polls, he won with women too.

It's certainly not over. Saturday night's debate in New Hampshire is crucial, and a stumble in New Hampshire restarts the ballgame, but Obama has incredible momentum and he gave an incredible speech at the right time. He waited perfectly for the 11:00 news to start, and I imagine he got his speech on a lot of local newscasts. And he was on his game, giving a speech which matched his performance from Iowa's Jefferson-Jackson dinner, and perhaps the best speech of his campaign and political life (though many will be partial to the 2004 Democratic Convention speech). He hit all the right notes, talked about bringing America together (nodding toward his electability), and talked about the challenges we face that we can only slay if we work together, and that's what Obama can do: Bring the United States together. And now he has proof to back that up, as he helped bring out a record turnout in Iowa, up almost 90% over 2004, and included a large number of independents and even Republicans.

Last note, you have to give an incredible amount of credit to Mike Huckabee. He was outspent nearly 20-1 and still won by almost double-digits. And he gave what I thought was one of the best speeches I have heard in a long, long time when he discussed his victory. He is a very formidable candidate, not just in the Republican race the rest of the way, but next November as well. He's an amazing communicator, politician, and orator. Him winning Iowa is no fluke.

And neither was Obama's victory and if he follows it up with another knockout blow in five-days in New Hampshire, there may be nothing the Clinton campaign can do to stop Obama because the country wants so badly to come together and to move past the divisiveness of the past. Iowa took that step tonight (with their nominations of both Obama and Huckabee). It's time for the rest of the country to do the same.

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Kurt said...

Well, Scott, I'll tell you this much. As one of those middle of the road voters you mentioned, I'm an Obama supporter. My politics are sorta Libertarian lite, so I end up agreeing with both parties on some things and tend to side with whoever I am closest to on the big issues of that campaign.

Initially I looked at Obama pretty skeptically, like he was a guy who gave a good speech but I wasn't sold. But reading his book, his interviews, and seeing his actions, I came around to saying "this is a candidate I can support because I support him, not because I oppose the opponent." I don't have to agree with him on everything, I like where he's coming from on the issues either way.

So it was nice to see he won tonight and by so much. I hope he keeps the momentum.

Scott Warheit said...

Kurt -

I did the same thing as you really. I supported Edwards in 2004, worked on Michigan's campus and around Ann Arbor for him during the primary. And I figured I'd support him this time too. But then I read Obama's books, both his first autobiography and then the second policy book, and I was very impressed. And I've continued to be more and more impressed as the campaign has gone on.

And what I like about Obama so much is that I really feel strongly he's the most electable Democrat and by far the most inspirational that can really lift the entire country up, and can get things done when he's President Hillary can't because she'll just end up in a food-fight with Republicans.


todd brakke said...

You know, Huckabee actually worried me with his speech last night. It was very, very well done. This is clearly a guy who knows how to stand in front of a podium and win hearts and minds, which wasn't at all what I was expecting, not really having heard the man speak before. If he gets the nomination nod I still won't be voting for him, but I can see where he could be a formidable opponent.

Either way, it was still not only a huge night for Obama, but a huge night for the Democratic Party. Reading Kos this morning I came across the following reference from the Group News Blog:

Total Voter Turnout (approximate)

Percentage of total vote
24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

Pretty telling, I think.

Anyway, I've had Obama's most recent book on a shelf for the past year without reading it, so I finally cracked it open last night while waiting for caucus numbers to start rolling in. Only through the first 25 pages so far, but as I expected, it's pretty good stuff and I'm looking forward to getting to the material on actual policy.

Michael said...

One of the writers on a site I blog for talked a about Obama's win. Of course he first had to explain was a Caucus was to our readers, lol.

Honestly I hate to play the race card but I'm very surprised to see Obama win in a state like Iowa. Maybe the world isn't as racist as I thought. I'm feeling like if he can win there he can win anywhere.

Scott Warheit said...

Todd - Those numbers are amazing, and very promising for the Democrats in the fall. And yes, Huckabee gave a really strong speech last night. Somebody on one of the newscasts said that Bill Clinton was praising Huckabee because he was the only Republican candidate who could give a speech and tell a joke at the same time. He's very easy-going, light, and doesn't come off as someone who has many of the far-right views that he has. A lot of people keep underestimating him, and it is true that among non-Evangelical voters last night, he finished 4th, he's still a force. And Obama's second book is good, but the first book, written before he was a politician, and which is more autobiographical, will give you a much better picture of Obama the person. Great book.

Michael - It does say something, something really positive I think, that race isn't a factor, that Barack Obama can win convincingly in Iowa, which is 95% white, and perhaps in New Hampshire, which has an even higher white population. And it's an affirmation for African American voters who were likely previously afraid to support Obama because they didn't believe that white America would ever vote for a black candidate. With Obama showing he can traverse that racial barrier, you may see him get an awful lot of support in states with higher minority populations, like South Carolina.



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