Obama and Huck Win; Edwards Takes 2nd, Hillary 3rd; Dem Field Narrows

Michael Moore: "It's the War," Says Iowa to Hillary
from MichaelMoore.com:

There was no doubt about it. The message from Iowa tonight was simple, but deafening:

If you're a candidate for president, and you voted for the war, you lose. And if you voted and voted and voted for the war -- and never once showed any remorse -- you really lose.

In short, if you had something to do with keeping us in this war for four-plus years, you are not allowed to be the next president of the United States.

Over 70% of Iowan Democrats voted for candidates who either never voted for the invasion of Iraq (Obama, Richardson, Kucinich) or who have since admitted their mistake (Edwards, Biden, Dodd). I can't tell you how bad I feel for Senator Clinton tonight. I don't believe she was ever really for this war. But she did -- and continued to do -- what she thought was the politically expedient thing to eventually get elected. And she was wrong. And tonight she must go to sleep wondering what would have happened if she had voted her conscience instead of her calculator.



Republicans 9:39 PST

via CNN (with 93 percent of precincts reporting):

Mike Huckabee 34%
Mitt Romney 25%
Fred Thompson 13%
John McCain 13%
Ron Paul 10%

With 10 percent in Iowa and a boatload of cash, will Fox News let Paul debate?


More go 8:49 PST

CNN reports that Joe Biden will drop out of the race, joining Chris Dodd. Oh, and we hear Mike Gravel is calling it a race.


Results Update 8:01 PST

via NBC (with 98 percent of precincts reporting):

Barack Obama 38%
John Edwards 30%
Hillary Clinton 29%


Dodd Drops Out 8:00 PST

Chris Dodd, who gained the respect of progressives around the country by taking a stand against Bush's assault on the rule of law and saying "no" to giving telecoms immunity for violating their customers' right to privacy, has announced that he will drop out of the race.


Networks call it for Obama in virtual three-way tie 6:40 PST

MSNBC reports:

"On the Democrats side, there was a virtual three-way tie, with Barack Obama holding a slim lead over rivals John Edwards and Hillary Clinton with about half the precincts counted."


"About half the Democratic caucus-goers said a candidate's ability to bring about needed change was the most important factor as they made up their minds, according to voters surveyed by The Associated Press and the television networks as they entered the caucuses. Change was Obama's calling card in the arduous campaign for Iowa's backing. Fewer voters cited experience, which Clinton said was her strong suit, or a candidate's chance of capturing the White House or ability to care about people like the voters themselves."


GOP Projection: Huckabee, then Romney 6:12 PST

Both ABC and CNN are projecting a win for Mike Huckabee. CNN:

"With 15 percent of precincts reporting, Huckabee had the support of 36 percent of voters, compared to 23 percent for Mitt Romney. Fred Thompson had 15 percent and John McCain had 12.

"On the Democratic side, early results show John Edwards with a narrow lead over rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama."


Early reports: turn-out extremely high 6:02 PST

Reports on the ground suggest a surprisingly high turn-out, given the frigid conditions. According to an Obama organizer at one site, the numbers are twice what they had projected.

As Jane Hamsher noted earlier, the conventional wisdom holds that "low turnout favors Edwards (he's got solid union support), mid turnout favors Clinton, and high turnout favors Obama."


Huckabee ran attack ads, after all 5:49 pm PST

From factcheck.org:

His attack ad appears on three Iowa stations. We find it somewhat misleading. Another ad makes misleading claims about tax cuts.
The ad Huckabee said he decided not to run has now appeared at least three times in Iowa anyway. It accuses Romney of being "dishonest" but shades the facts in the process.

In another ad Huckabee claims to have signed the most broad-based tax cut in Arkansas history. But as we've noted repeatedly, he signed bigger tax increases than cuts.



Early Dem results: Edwards leads in close race 5:41 pm PST

from the Iowa Democratic Party site:

Senator John Edwards : 34.05%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 32.09%
Senator Barack Obama : 30.86%
Governor Bill Richardson : 1.81%
Senator Joe Biden : 0.98%
Senator Chris Dodd : 0.12%
Uncommitted : 0.09%
Precincts Reporting: 237 of 1781
(Percentages are State Delegate Equivalents.)


Iowa independents prefer Democrats 2:1 over Republicans
from the Des Moines Register:

Thousands more Iowa independent voters are expected to turn out for Democrat presidential candidates than Republicans at today’s Iowa caucuses.

Iowa independents are expected to follow the lead set by their national peers in 2006. Nationwide, independents backed Democrats heavily in the watershed 2006 elections, in part out of a rejection of President Bush and a loud cry for change that has continued into the 2008 campaign, strategists in both parties agree. ...

The Des Moines Register’s late November poll showed 21 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers identified themselves as independents, a group that accounted for a surprising 40 percent in the Register’s poll this week.

Meanwhile, the Register’s poll showed independents accounting for 20 percent likely GOP caucusgoers, up from 13 percent in late November.



McCain irked by Ron Paul the spoiler 4pm PST
from Marc Cooper at the Huffington Post:

GOP presidential candidate John McCain is deeply worried that his resurgent national campaign may be stalled by a relatively strong showing in tonight's Iowa caucuses by the iconoclastic Ron Paul.

The Arizona senator's campaign told the HuffPost that their candidate is concerned that Paul will finish third behind front-runners Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.



Is Obama plan B for Richardson supporters? 4pm PST
from John Harwood at the NYT '08 blog:

Barack Obama’s drive to win tonight’s Iowa caucuses is getting a boost from two of his putative rivals. After earlier winning the support of Dennis Kucinich, Obama’s campaign has reached an agreement with Bill Richardson for the second-choice votes of Richardson supporters in caucuses where the New Mexico governor can’t clear the threshold for competition, according to a senior Obama campaign adviser.



Pat Buchanan's sister: "illegal immigration and faith" will dictate outcome: 4pm PST
by Brian D at Redstate.org:

Bay Buchanan, formerly a supporter of Tancredo, recently joined the campaign of Governor Romney, said that there are two issues in Iowa that are going to motivate voters - Illegal Immigration and Faith.

According to Buchanan, over the last 7 months immigration has been the "dominant theme of most of the candidates" and all of the candidates have promoted "securing our nation's borders and enforcing laws" that are currently on the books. She further said that, "many Iowans share faith with Gov. Huckabee," but tonight's Romney vs. Huckabee battle will come down to "who votes."



Obama strategist Axelrod: "can't help but be optimistic" 4pm PST

by Marc Cooper from Huffington Post:

Speaking to Huffington Post and other reporters just hours before tonight's Iowa caucuses, Obama campaign top strategist David Axelrod said that, "He can't help but be optimistic about tonight's results."

He described the energy bubbling at the Iowa headquarters as "incredible," but refused to predict exactly where his candidate will finish tonight.

"We're in uncharted waters," he said. "We've never in a campaign like this before."



Clintons and Iowa reporter argue against college voters in caucuses? 4pm PST

From Rick Hasen at Election Law blog:

We've all seen the cry of "voter fraud" being used for political purposes in recent years, but this latest example would be amusing if it weren't so pernicious: David Yepsen, a leading political reporter for The Des Moines Register, has suggested that Senator Obama's encouragement of college students to vote in the Iowa caucuses amounts to "fraud." President Bill Clinton too has gotten in on the action. Recognizing that such voting could well help Obama who has energized students on college campuses, beat his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton has discouraged such voting, telling college students to use their consciences in deciding whether or not to participate in the caucuses. But the bottom line is that voting by Iowa college students is perfectly legal, and indeed such voting could help to compensate for the otherwise anti-democratic nature of Iowa's role in the presidential election process.

Let's start with the law. Iowa residents can participate in the presidential caucuses, and the Iowa Code specifically provides that a "student who resides at or near the school the student attends, but who is also able to claim a residence at another location under the provisions of this section, may choose either location as the student's residence for voter registration and voting purposes." The state Democratic Party agrees that "[a]ny student who attends an Iowa college or university may participate in the Iowa caucuses provided they are 18 by November 4, 2008, and are a registered Democrat in the precinct in which they wish to caucus." Indeed, before raising his charge of fraud, Yepsen conceded in his column that voting by college students is "quite legal."

So what is this really about? Apparently Yepsen is upset that out-of-staters -- particularly college students from Illinois, whom Yepsen says are used to voter fraud -- are going to "skew" the results of the races. This kind of charge is hardly new. Indeed, back in 1965, the Supreme Court considered Carrington v. Rash, a case in which Texas sought to exclude state residents on military bases from voting in elections. Texas argued it had "a legitimate interest in immunizing its elections from the concentrated balloting of military personnel, whose collective voice may overwhelm a small local civilian community" The high Court, while recognizing the state's right to limit voting to bona fide residents, unanimously rejected the argument: "Fencing out from the franchise a sector of the population because of the way they may vote is constitutionally impermissible."



500+ Pundit survey: Edwards gets nod 4pm PST

from Kari Chisolm at Blue Oregon:

Well, the January 2008 edition of my Punditology Challenge is closed -- and 562 folks participated. It's a group of folks that includes elected officials, local and national political consultants, journalists, bloggers, and plenty of political junkies, activists, and blog readers. ... Iowa: As a group, 45% believe that John Edwards will win the Iowa caucus, followed by 34% who think Barack Obama will, and 21% who are sure it's Hillary Clinton. ... What about the Republican side of things? We're much more certain - 59% say it's Mike Huckabee, while 38% say it's Mitt Romney.

Read more... (with predictions for other states)

Bill in a big downplay of expectations for Hillary? 4pm PST

noted from Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

"I didn’t win a race until I got to Georgia. You just got to keep going. It is a long process." -- Bill Clinton, quoted by The Politico, in an attempt to downplay expectations for Sen. Hillary Clinton in Iowa tonight.


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