Thursday, January 03, 2008
Caucus - A Fascinating American Process
The Iowa caucus is the first test on the road to the White House. This process is peculiarly and uniquely American. This is a great nation and it's amazing to watch it at work sometimes.
I must admit I never really understood the caucus process. But, now with the big news stations in depth and Internet coverage, I do.
Simply put, Iowans don't actually vote like in a primary, but align themselves with a candidate. Republican and Democratic caucus rules are different. Republicans gather, listen to speeches for each candidate and then take a straw poll for their choice. Actual numbers are reported.
Democrats gather, then align themselves in the corner of the room allocated for their chosen candidate. Any candidate with 15% of the room or more is declared "viable". If their candidate is not viable they can re-align themselves to a different candidate if they choose. Percentages are reported only.
The beauty of this system to me, is that people gather and actually discuss candidates and issues, and then decide. These caucuses are held in church basements, school lunchrooms and libraries, and in living rooms. They don't just stand in line and pull a lever, they discuss and haggle and decide. The Iowans did this 212,000 strong.
Huckabee 34% God forbid! Bush but worse. Nuff said.
Obama 38% Change won out over experience.
Obama winning in Iowa, a majority white state, is huge especially to Black voters who needed to see that he could win in such states. That it is possible. That Clinton was not inevitable.
Obama won the independents 41%, he also won the women's vote including the over 50 group.
The young voted overwhelming not only for Obama, but against Clinton.
Age 17-24...57% Obama.
As the voter's age went down so did her percentages in that demographic. Could it be to these young people, that the Clinton is just a name from the past?
Could it be that for many the Clinton name carries baggage? And could the affinity many have for the charismatic Bill and transferred to Hillary has worn out?
She has to create a connection of her own.
John Edwards' speech was inspirational and quite presidential. His second place win in Iowa proves he is a contender.
Hillary Clinton changed her tune a bit already in her post caucus speech. She did not use her usual "when I am elected" instead saying "when a democrat is elected"..
She also emphasized change and the need for young people to join her. She touched my heart when mentioning ending the horrid No Child Left Behind program.
Obama sited this win as a defining moment in history. Hope over fear. Hope is a man running for president whose father came from Kenya, mother from Kansas, a story that can only happen in the United States of America.
So now Obama and Edwards ride their winning momentum on to the New Hampshire primary. Huckabee will not have his Christian conservative base there. In that more liberal state Edwards will have a tougher fight for his piece of the democratic pie. We will see if Obama's support continues to translate into votes. And, Clinton may have finished third in Iowa, but she is far from being defeated and will be hard to defeat.