Obama Wins in Iowa, Sets Back Hillary Bid for Democratic Nomination

The Inquirer headlined, somewhat prematurely and with its usual sensationalism , “Black President in White House ?” as Sen. Barack Obama took the Iowa caucus for the Democratic Party, relegating former frontrunner New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to third place behind John Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina.

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, came out of nowhere to edge out Mitt Romney, the Mormon multi-millionaire former Massachusetts governor, delivering a serious setback to Mr. Romney’s well-funded and well-organized campaign.

Party presidential bets in the U.S. are chosen in state caucuses or polls, where registered party members cast their votes for their respective parties’ candidates.

The record number of Democrats who turned out to caucus – more than 239,000, compared with about 108,000 Republicans – demonstrated the extent to which opposition to President Bush and the Iraq war has galvanized Democrats and should be a wake up call to Republicans regarding their chances in the November 2008 presidential elections.

Clinton and Obama are to slug it out in 25 more contests until February 5, 2008, the next being New Hampshire. But the Iowa outcome is worrying for Sen. Clinton, who ran on a a platform of experience, having been at the forefront of national politics for most of her life, including two stints as First Lady.

Mr. Obama, a first-time Senator from Illinois, offered change, a vision which apparently resonated among the Democrats in this predominantly white state. Hillary’s camp realized too late that “change” was a much more powerful message than “experience”, according to the New York Times. Now the Clinton campaign faces a critical test in New Hampshire, one which places the would-be Clinton dynasty on the line.

Race was never really an issue in Iowa, as Obama reached out across racial divides and managed to tap into a huge base of first-time caucus goers, including many independent voters and younger voters. Obama is hoping that this trend will continue through February.

It’s too early to tell who will eventually prevail. Although Hillary is leading in the New Hampshire polls, the swing votes composed of the young and undecided might eventually carry the day. And as shown in Iowa, there was a sharp generational break in support of the two candidates. Mr. Obama was backed by 60 percent of voters under 25 while Mrs. Clinton was supported by about 45 percent of voters over 65.

What is undeniable is that the Democrats have shown a resurgence and vitality not seen since the Bill Clinton years, due, no doubt, to the rising unpopularity of the Bush administration’s handling (or mishandling) of Iraq and the war on terror as well as other blunders in the home front. The rising price of oil, partly attributable to the instability brought about by George W.’s aggressive foreign policy, will also be a major gut issue which would pull down the Republican party. Expect a Democrat to be elected to the White House in November.

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