IOWA VOTES TONIGHT BUT WISEHEADS WILL WAIT FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE BEFORE MAKING GRANDSTAND CONCLUSIONS
David Broder of the Washington Post explains why Iowa shouldn't matter too much:
"In 2004, 1,506,908 people voted in Iowa in the general election for president. Turnout at the Democratic caucuses that year was 124,000. The biggest number ever for Republicans was 115,000 in 1980. That system empowers the activists and those with built-in organizational ties who can mobilize people to leave their homes for a couple of hours on a weeknight and motivate them to declare a public — not private — preference for a candidate. On the Republican side, those networks belong principally to conservative Christian groups, antiabortion organizations, home-school advocates and some economic interests. On the Democratic side, organized labor and the teachers boast the best networks, but the main impulse is a broader populist tradition that tugs the Democratic Party of Iowa to the left."
Will wiseheads prevail? Probably not. All sort of pundits will be drawing big conclusions tomorrow and that will only be half-justified if the winner(s) does so by a big margin.
WILL THE FREDHEADS FOLLOW THEIR MAN IF HE BACKS McCAIN?
The Politico is speculating that Thompson may drop out and back John McCain (R). Poor Fred Thompson (R) is short of campaign cash and will finish a poor third tonight despite two weeks of non-stop pressing of the Iowa flesh. That would be a huge boost for McCain (R) going into New Hampshire. Ahead in one new national poll, endorsed by a Detroit newspaper ahead of the crucial Michigan primary and, as Toby Harnden documents, loved by the press... things are going well for the "Comeback Grandpa".
Even if Huckabee (R) wins tonight's Iowa caucus (Gerry Baker thinks his campaign is over if he doesn't win) he won't be the Republican nominee but he could be the Vice Presidential nominee for McCain/ Giuliani. He would help them win the south (Huckabee was Governor of Bill Clinton's former state of Arkansas) and reassure Christian conservatives. The brilliant Ross Douthat has more thoughts on running mate options - particularly on Senator Jim Webb (D) from the Democrats' target state of Virginia becoming running mate for Barack Obama (D).
Even the Democrats admit that Mike Huckabee is a likeable and funny guy. Washington Wire has compiled some of his best funnies. Here's one:
"Over a half million dollars from Washington special interest money poured in here to tell you guys what a bum that I really am. Those guys could have saved their money. I brought my wife. She could tell you that for free.”
FOUR QUICK LINKS
- The Politico on how Hillary has changed slogans too much
- The American Spectator on below-the-radar progress that the Bush administration is making on missile defence
- Some evidence that America's left-wing blogs may have peaked and the right-wing blogosphere is growing
- On 31st December we noted that the Republican coalition may be cracking up; the National Review is not so sure.