"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”


Friday, January 4, 2008

Hawkeye Lessons, Election 2008

Iowa Democrats issued a clarion call for change last night by rebuking the Clinton machine and endorsing Barack Obama's post-partisan message of reconciliation and change. While Democratic turnout swamped the Republicans, the GOP voters delivered a verdict demanding change and rejected the failed Bush policies by endorsing the DC outsider's candidacy. While I think the MSM's rush to describe this election cycle as similar to 2008 is premature and hyperbolic, it's clear something is happening.

The rise of populism (on both sides), a generational shift, an unpopular war and a politicized and engaged electorate is a recipe for a tectonic political change. Barack Obama finds himself perfectly positioned for the campaign ahead.

The entrance poll data reveals:

1) The Energized Youth: Obama's campaign took a huge risk by staking his political fortunes on the notoriously disengaged voters under the age of thirty. Despite predictions the youth of 2008 would behave as the youth of the past, Obama built an Iowa (and national) strategy on a generational foundation. Defying the experts, they showed up in droves.

2) The Missing Gender Gap: TeamHillary believed she could achieve victory by attracting the majority of female voters. In a party where women outnumber men, female voters were viewed as Hillary's firewall. Surprisingly, Obama bested Hillary by a 35-30% margin.

3) Indies Heart the Democrats: Non-affiliated voters chose to caucus with the Democrats (20% were indies) and they were solidly in Obama's camp. Clinton attracted only 17% of these voters, finishing far behind Edwards and Obama. This reaffirms the general consensus Sen. Clinton is the polarizing figure in the Democratic race and undermines her argument as the most electable general election candidate.

4) Ronnie, They Shrunk Your Party: The 'theocratization' of the Republican Party continued, full-steam ahead. Fully 60% of the Iowa GOP caucus attendees were self-identified evangelicals. The GOP's decades-long Southern Strategy may be coming to fruition: a retreat to the land of Dixie, unelectable outside the South.

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