Bicycle Diaries: The Iowa Caucuses

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The Iowa Caucuses

how good
is Rolling Stone
at politics

Not very! The day before Iowa voters turned out in record numbers, Tim Dickinson tried his hand at predicting the near-future in Iowa. Characteristic of the magazine's staff, he took a rather contrarian view of both Democratic and Republican outcomes.

He was way off on all but two of his five predictions. The first one he got right was that Hillary would come in third. But the second one, the growing influence of the youth vote, is more notable, I believe. Read on...
...take a couple hundred thousand Midwesterners, pack them into gyms and libraries and town halls on a frigid Iowa night, add a heaping measure of peer pressure to the equation, and, well, anything can happen.

1) John Edwards Wins Going Away

For a process wherein your average caucus goers expect to have shaken the hand of the candidate they support, Edwards has simply reached out to more Iowans than his competitors.

Senator Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat, won the Iowa caucuses Thursday night.
2) Hillary Clinton Comes in Third

But let’s get real: If Obama wins, Edwards places, and Hillary tumbles into third by any notable margin, her candidacy could be toast. Inevitable candidates don’t finish last.
Senator Hillary Clinton, stung by her third-place finish in Iowa, was already pressing the case that she has the experience that her younger rival lacks.
3) Mitt Romney Springboards Toward Inevitability

His strong suit is supposed to be as an executive, and here’s his chance to prove it. He rescued an Olympiad that seemed to be sunk in Salt Lake City, and he’s got a chance to pull a similar rabbit out of his hat tomorrow night.
Mike Huckabee, the Arkansas Republican won the Iowa caucuses Thursday night.
4) Ron Paul Clips McCain

If Ron Paul’s supporters can catapult him into third place, they will do more than prove their candidate is no novelty act. More important, the anti-war Republicans can also clip the wings of the McCain, the GOP’s biggest Iraq-war booster.
Senator John McCain, who was rising in polls with the added benefit of a respectable showing in Iowa despite buying no television ads there.
5) The Youth Vote Makes All The Difference

Consider this fact: Likely caucus goers born after Watergate prefer Obama to Hillary Clinton 56 percent to 11 percent. The support for Obama among young women is even stronger.
David Brooks reports in the NYTimes,
Barack Obama has won the Iowa caucuses. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by this ... He does it by getting young voters to come out to the caucuses ... Whatever their political affiliations, Americans are going to feel good about the Obama victory, which is a story of youth, possibility and unity through diversity — the primordial themes of the American experience.
And Matthew Yglesias reports in The Atlantic,
I think the manner of Barack Obama’s win is pretty impressive. I can’t be the only one who was a bit inclined toward a cynical roll of the eyes at the idea of winning on the back of unprecedented turnout, mobilizing new voters, [bringing] in young people...

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