Captain's Quarters Blog

« Iraqis Tiring Of Foreigners (But Not The Ones You Think) | Main | McSnake! »

January 19, 2004
Iowa Stunner

Howard Dean laid an egg:

Shaking up the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts won the Iowa caucuses Tuesday night, according to CNN projections. John Edwards, a first-term senator from North Carolina whose once listless campaign gained new life in Iowa, was in second place, according to initial party results. Howard Dean, a former governor of Vermont and presumed front-runner in the Democratic race, was in third place.

Iowa normally favors the strongest organization, which undoubtedly Dean brought, but coming in at less than half of Kerry's turnout. Dean could have escaped with little or no damage with even a strong second-place showing, but a distant third suddenly spotlights all of Dean's weaknesses.

Iowa, in general, is overrated as an indicator and most of the time Iowans get it wrong. As former DNC chair and current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell just said on Fox News, he got elected Attorney General in Philadelphia with more votes than the total cast in Iowa tonight. But there is no escaping the fact that Dean had a significant lead here just two weeks ago and let it slip through his fingers, and that will be a difficult image to overcome when voters consider his viability in a national campaign against a fully-armed George Bush and Karl Rove.

What happens now? Dean still has significant strength in New Hampshire, but the stink of Iowa may change that this week. Edwards is not a factor there, but Kerry will be sure to leverage the momentum to convince New Hampshire voters that Dean can't hold up. Clark, who earlier appeared to be the likely anti-Dean, may also be damaged by the strong Kerry and Edwards finish.

One thing for sure -- Gephardt is finished. He couldn't poll better than 11% in what really was his own back yard, geographically speaking. He got beat by two Northeasterners and a Southerner, and any way you look at it, he won't go anywhere from here. All major news networks are reporting that Gephardt will announce his withdrawal from the race either later tonight or early tomorrow.

If Dean can come back to win New Hampshire, then Dean still controls the nomination race. However, if Kerry or Clark can win New Hampshire, Dean will be out, one of the quickest meltdowns in American election history. However, if that happens, you can expect that a significant percentage of Dean's base to either vote Green or not vote at all, which may cripple the Democrats across the entire ballot in November. For an example of Dean's base and their reaction, check out this post from Blogs for Bush.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Power Line says the only ones more confused by this result than they are the Democrats themselves. It certainly fits the oddball results. Professor Bainbridge has the best line of the night so far:

6:34 [PST]: It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to think about how unhappy Deaniac Hollywood lefties like Garofolo, Reiner, Sheen, etc... must be right now.

Heh. He has the same reaction to Dean's post-caucus speech as I did: what color is the sky in this guy's world? He just got spanked and he's screaming out the names of states he's gonna WIN WIN WIN!!!

Check out Daniel Drezner, too, who actually predicted the outcome of the race and has some interesting initial thoughts about the meaning of the results. Also, PoliBlog has a series of short but good posts on the Iowa caucus. Start here and scroll down.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 19, 2004 9:23 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!