WASHINGTON, 9:50 p.m. — Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will both leave Iowa and head to New Hampshire tomorrow with the wind at their backs but facing vastly different political terrain as the Granite State’s Jan. 8 primary approaches.
Obama, riding a wave of support among first-time and college-age caucus-goers that put him over the top Thursday, will hit the stump well positioned to grab a second victory five days from now. Recent polls in the state have shown the senator in the lead or in a statistical tie with New York Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, whose aura of inevitability may erode further if she fails to come out on top.
By contrast, Huckabee has much ground to make up in New Hampshire, where former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s second-place finish tonight leaves him and Arizona Senator John McCain in a horse race. More libertarian and socially liberal than Iowa and less populated by evangelical Christians — who make up Huckabee’s base — New Hampshire may prove difficult for the former Baptist minister.
Eric Thayer/Getty Images
Obama’s victory tonight, considered by many in the political establishment to be improbable a year ago, appears to have been powered in large part by younger voters. According to CNN “entrance polls,” 57 percent of 17-24-year-olds who participated in the Democratic caucuses backed the Illinois senator. Clinton, the leader in many national polls, did not even register on the list of top finishers — former North Carolina Senator John Edwards came in second, with 14 percent, followed by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson at 10 percent.Those entrance polls showed Clinton with a decisive lead over both Obama and Edwards among older voters.
A Des Moines Register poll released Monday indicated that 60 percent of those planning to vote in the Democratic caucuses said they would do so for the first time tonight.
Independents also helped drive Obama past Clinton and Edwards, who has been in second place in returns for much of the night. CNN reports that 41 percent of unaffiliated voters supported Obama, compared with 23 percent for Edwards and 17 percent for Clinton.
Polls in Iowa and other states have shown that Obama’s focus throughout the campaign on changing national policies and the political culture in Washington — in his speeches, he has quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., declaring “the fierce urgency of now” — have resonated with young voters. Former first lady Clinton also made change a large part of her platform, while simultaneously trumpeting her experience in the White House during her husband’s administration and in the Senate — an awkward tension upon which Obama sought to capitalize.
CNN polls of Iowa voters heading into caucus sites showed that Democrats prioritized change over experience by a 5-2 margin.
Huckabee also benefited from high turnout at tonight’s caucuses, especially among evangelical Christians, many of whom, unsatisfied with the socially conservative credentials of the leading candidates, settled on Huckabee in the last month-and-a-half. According to entrance surveys conducted by the New York Times, 60 percent of participants in tonight’s Republican caucus identify themselves as evangelicals.
CNN reported that combined participation in tonight’s caucuses topped 324,000 — a significant increase over recent previous caucuses.
Romney, who lost to Huckabee, 34-25 percent, outspent the Arkansan four to one in the Hawkeye State.
-The Yale Daily News