Well, I was 100% correct in my predictions for the Democratic results here in Iowa, and 100% wrong for the Republican results! For those who do not remember, I chose on the Republican side Thompson, Romney, and either Giuliani or Huckabee in third. Instead, Huckabee won it - so my thoughts about his support draining away were clearly wrong.
In terms of post-mortem, clearly many smarter folks than I will be having their say, and of course with the Wyoming Republican caucus today, and New Hampshire primary on Tuesday we will soon have more results to ponder. Nonetheless, I will share my thoughts on what it all means, just so I can be wrong again!
I think the situation on the Democratic side is the clearer of the two. Edwards is toast - he needed to win Iowa, and did not do that. I do not see anything coming down the pike where he will win, and without a win soon (before February 5) he will be seen as irrelevant. That leaves Hillary and Obama. I could be wrong here, but I think Hillary is toast too. Too few people find her demeanor attractive. What I mean by that is she seems incapable of making enough people feel good about her and about her leadership to make the sale. Her claims that her time as first lady gives her an edge in experience over Obama and Edwards is frankly laughable, and even the MSM are not going for it. In short, I do not think she will win anything between now and February 5, and if I am right, she will be so badly wounded by then that she will end up losing on that day big time. I will say right now that I think Obama has this in the bag. What that means for the general election is very difficult to say at this point in time, because Obama is actually very much a liberal and strongly on the left wing of the democratic party, but it will be interesting.
The Republican side is very murky. If Huckabee gets a top two finish in New Hampshire, I think he will go on to win the nomination, but I do not expect that to happen. His first place in Iowa was clearly due to strong evangelical support, but looking at the numbers shows an interesting story. He got 37% of the vote, yet between 50 and 60% of the Republican caucus goers were evangelicals according to various entrance and exit polls. In other words, Huckabee did not get all of the evangelical vote (although he did very well in it - perhaps as much as 75% of it) and nowhere else will he find such strong evangelical support (South Carolina will be strongly for Fred rather than Huckabee). In short, this is Huckabee's flash in the pan, and I do not think he will carry this win forward in any meaningful way.
What about Romney? Well, he was hurt by not finishing first, but the strong evangelical presence no doubt contributed to that. He needs to finish first or second everywhere between now and February 5 to be in a commanding position. Otherwise, he is fighting for his life. Money is not an issue for him right now, but eventually he will have to decide if spending all his own money is worth it in a possibly losing fight.
Thompson lives to fight another day (yippee!) but needs to start doing better than third place. If he does not get one or two second places before February 5, he's done. He may get a second or first place finish today in Wyoming.
McCain did less well than some had indicated in Iowa, but clearly has rebounded from his low point. If he wins New Hampshire (seems likely) he is back in the thick of it, but he still has to get through South Carolina, which was his nemesis in 2000. Still, he is in good shape right now.
Giuliani has to show well in New Hampshire and South Carolina (no lower than third) and then has to win in Florida.
Ron Paul may have hit his high point with 9% in Iowa. From here on out, he fades in importance.
But, please be aware how wrong I was about the Republican caucus results, and take all of this with a large grain of salt!