The results from the Iowa caucuses are now in. For the Republicans, it went: 1) Huckabee, 2) Romney, and 3) Thompson. For the Democrats, 1) Obama, 2) Edwards, and 3) Clinton.
The big story coming out of the Iowa caucus was the solid victory by Obama and Huckabee. I've heard some say they "under estimated" Mike Huckabee. I think rather, they OVER estimated the insight of the people in Iowa and value of the Iowa caucuses in electing the president.
Historically, Iowa has ALMOST NEVER picked the candidate who ultimately becomes president. Let's review the winners of the last eight presidential elections, and how they faired in the Iowa caucuses:
2004 - George W. Bush - Was unopposed in the Iowa caucus
2000 - George W. Bush - Came in 1st in Iowa caucus
1996 - Bill Clinton - Was unopposed in Iowa caucus
1992 - Bill Clinton - Came in FOURTH in Iowa caucus with ONLY 3% of the vote
1988 - George H. W. Bush - Came in THIRD in the Iowa caucus with 19% of the vote
1984 - Ronald Reagan - Was unopposed in the Iowa caucus
1980 - Ronald Reagan - Came in SECOND in the Iowa caucus with 30% of the vote
1976 - Jimmy Carter - Came in SECOND in the Iowa caucus (behind "uncommitted") with 28% of the vote
So, as you can see, in the last 8 elections, if the candidate was opposed, Iowa only picked the winner of the general election ONE TIME! (George W. Bush in 2000.) Iowa seems to be good at picking losing candidates, but not so good at picking winners. So, before Huckabee and Obama do too much celebrating, they should remember the MANY candidates who won the Iowa caucus for their party, and then went on to lose in the race for president, such as John Kerry, Bob Dole, Al Gore, Gerald Ford, Tom Harkin, Richard Gephardt, Walter Mondale, and Jimmy Carter (2nd term). As opposed to Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter (1st term), who did NOT come in first in their party's Iowa caucus, but went on to win the Presidency.
Iowa hardly represents a cross section of America. Polls showed that among Republican caucus goers, 60% identified themselves as "Evangelical Christians," and Huckabee got pretty much all of their votes. I'm not sure there was anything Romney could have done to get that group to NOT vote for a "Baptist minister." Unfortunately for Huckabee, this same dynamic will not carry over for him in New Hampshire and many other states.
Because Obama won, he'll get a lot of the press this week and will likely pull many of the independent voters in NH to vote in the Democratic election, rather than for John McCain, making a Romney victory there quite possible.
I'm actually looking forward to finally have Romney be seen as the underdog. The story is now everywhere else besides with Romney (Huckabee, McCain, Obama, etc.), so he has a chance to be the "comeback kid," as was Bill Clinton in 1992.
Romney started in Iowa at like 2%, and finished tonight with a respectable 2nd place and 25% of the vote. If history repeats itself, this is right where he wants to be.
On to New Hampshire!