Reactions to Obama in Iowa

After John Kerry effectively won the 2004 nomination with a victory in Iowa many are predicting that the state might once again determine the nominee. This will depend partially upon who wins. A victory for Clinton in Iowa would probably start a steam roller effect considering the lead she already has in the national polls. If Obama wins he would make it a real fight but we couldn’t count Clinton out unless she does very poorly. An Edwards win would have little impact considering how he has been practically living in Iowa since 2005 and as his populist message will be a tough sell in New Hampshire. His decision to accept matching funds will also make many reluctant to give him the nomination realizing that nominating Edwards would probably result in conceding the general election to the Republicans and give them a chance at retaking control of Congress. If Richardson, Dodd, or Biden won it would elevate them to the top tier but still leave them with a tough fight to win the nomination.

With the importance of Iowa, the Boston Globe took a look at how Obama is playing in the state. Not surprisingly, considering his name recognition and frequent campaigning in the state, Edwards began with the interest of many voters. As I also anticipated, the more of Edwards they see, the less they are interested:

Several other voters at Obama appearances in Waterloo and Independence said Obama became their favorite after souring on John Edwards. Edwards led in many Iowa polls in the spring and summer with his populist message but voters said he plummeted in sincerity with his $400 haircut and his ties to subprime mortgage companies in the national foreclosure debacle.

Obama’s advantage is that he can transcend the usual left versus right divide and bring in supporters from the other party. Ronald Reagan brought in many Democratic voters and helped the Republicans build a new majority. By 2004 many had soured on the Republicans under Bush and turned to John Kerry, who is greatly under appreciated by many in his own party for doing far better than would be expected by a candidate running against an incumbent during a time of war. Kerry’s willingness to break from Democratic orthodoxy and his history of support for small business attracted many former Republicans and I suspect he could have won the election if he had emphasized these points more as opposed to listening to his political advisers. Obama frequently leads the polls among independents who plan to vote Democratic, and this view is also reflected in the article:

Julie Falcon, 49, a federal natural resources worker whose votes have swung from Ronald Reagan in 1980 to John Kerry in 2004, wrote a note during Obama’s speech in Independence that said, “So far out of the others I have seen, he is by far the best of the three,” referring to Obama, Clinton, and Edwards.

I’ve noted before that Obama is doing a good job of both defending separation of church and state while appealing to religious voters in a manner which no Democrat has been able to achieve since Jimmy Carter. This has also been noticed by Iowa voters:

They were persuaded to give Obama a further look because of the fact Obama said that he is a Christian, but that his administration would embrace all religions. “Too many people in politics are saying my Bible is better than your Bible,” Gleason said. Schrader added, “We have a cultural melting pot. We don’t need a president who polarizes.”

These anecdotal reactions are not enough to predict the outcome, but we’ve also seen that advance polls have little predictive value. The attitudes presented here do suggest that Obama has a reasonable chance to win the Iowa caucus and perhaps put an end to the view that a Clinton victory is inevitable. Donnie Fowler also describes at Huffington Post how Iowa’s caucus rules work to Obama’s advantage.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    ShindigZ says:

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  2. 2
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