Friday, January 04, 2008

The Democratic race sorts itself out in dramatic fashion

So here is where we stand this morning, January 4, 2008. Barack Obama won Iowa's caucus by a significant amount[1]:
Obama - 37.58%
Edwards - 29.75%
Clinton - 29.47%
Richardson - 2.11%
Biden - 0.93%
Obama beat Edwards by a margin of 7.83%, while Edwards edged out Clinton by a slender 0.28%. Dodd and Biden dropped out, freeing up perhaps 2-3% between the two of them.

Iowa was Edwards' best shot for a win. He had previously performed well there, he committed much of his money there, and sent the cream of his campaign staff into the battle for Iowa. Edwards fought a great fight for Iowa, but in the end he was swamped between Clinton and Obama. Edwards' performance in Iowa simply wasn't good enough to win him the money and momentum he needed to compete in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Consider the poll numbers below. New Hampshire as of January 2, 2008[2]:
Clinton - 31.8%
Obama - 28.8%
Edwards - 17.7%
Richardson - 6%
Biden - 2.8%
South Carolina as of December 31, 2007[3]:
Clinton - 34.4%
Obama - 33.8%
Edwards - 15.4%
Edwards trails Clinton and Obama by more than ten points in each of these key states. It seems very unlikely to this writer that Edwards will be able to recover and make up these deficits.

Obama trails Clinton by 2.4% in New Hampshire and by less than a single point in South Carolina, but the momentum is all Obama all the time for the next week at least. New Hampshire goes to the polls next Tuesday, January 8th. This weekend will be key. Can Obama's ground team in New Hampshire pull off a victory like his Iowa team did? As a worst case scenario Obama appears assured of a close second place finish in New Hampshire and stands an excellent chance of upsetting Hillary Clinton there.

The next important event on the Democratic calendar is the Democratic South Carolina primary on January 26th. If Obama upsets Clinton in New Hampshire, he will have more than two weeks to campaign in South Carolina and capitalize on his momentum. Even if he comes in second place in New Hampshire he will bring a strong case for victory to South Carolina. If Obama wins Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, then he could roll up Super-Duper Tuesday.

Another factor going forward will be the debate factor. Biden and Dodd have dropped out and it seems unlikely to me that any more debate invitations will be extended to Kucinich and Gravel. Even Richardson may find his invitations drying up. Going forward, the Democratic field may rapidly narrow to Obama, Clinton, and Edwards.

To sum up: Obama has broken through, Clinton is now playing defense trying to hold onto her early lead, Edwards is fading and the rest of the Democratic field is basically dead in the water. In four more days we'll have another key piece of the puzzle.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I wouldn't quite say that Edwards is fading. Take a look at the spending in Iowa. Considering (campaign and PAC) money spent, Edwards got much more bang for the buck than Obama and Hillary. I think he spent about 1/5 of Obama and Hillary.

Check here for money figures.

Don't count Edwards out yet. Not to mention I find it hard basing what's best for our country on what a select minority of Iowa participants believe.