Monday, January 14, 2008

The earliest results are in

Well, the first two caucus results are in (possibly two and a half). In Iowa, a traditionally red state, over twice as many Democrats came out to caucus as Republicans (239,000 Democrats, 118,000 Republicans). And the end result was that, in a state where the population is 2.5% black (just under a fifth of the national average), Barack Obama came out ahead of every single candidate in both parties. And this, despite all the unmentioned "conventional wisdom" telling us that we could never get an African-American elected president.

But in New Hampshire, with a similar overwhelmingly Democratic turnout, the nod went to Hillary Clinton (despite both the rabid anti-Clinton crowd and a similarly unmentioned meme that we could never get a woman elected president).

The Wyoming Republican caucus also went by, relatively unnoticed. The Republican party from the state with less population than most average cities, desperate to look relevant, took a chance and pushed their caucus to Saturday, January 5 (and as a result, the state had its number of national convention delegates slashed by half from 28 to 14 - come on, when you claim to be a Republican, you aren't supposed to mess with tradition). We'll look at their results, too.

Admittedly, this is just the first couple of states, but let's take a look at the results. (All percentage rankings are by party, and are taken from the Des Moines Register, which seems like a reasonable source for news from Iowa. Similarly, the New Hampshire results were pulled from the Concord Monitor. Wyoming results were simply pulled from the AP release, because I'm too lazy to look harder and find something that gives complete votes. So all I've got from there is the number of delegates each candidate earned - but in the end, does it make a difference? It's just Wyoming. One of those square states in the middle that nobody cares about.

Oh, and by the way, the New Hampshire results are going to be recounted: Dennis Kucinich says he wants it because he wants to ensure that everybody's vote is counted. Robert Howard apparently can't believe that only 43 people in the whole state voted for him.
Mike Huckabee: In Iowa, the Baptist minister got 34% of the vote. Nothing from Wyoming, where they know that God has deserted them anyway. (I mean, does anybody think that Dick Cheney could come from anyplace that God has been keeping an eye on?) And in New Hampshire, he managed to gain 11% of the vote. This whole Huckabee mess is actually scaring the rank and file in the Republican party: after years of courting the religious right, a candidate finally came from there. It would be cool if he drove the moneychangers from the temple, wouldn't it?

Mitt Romney: Mitt only managed to pull out 25% of the vote from Iowa, but might feel a little better by the fact that he got eight of the twelve delegates from Wyoming. But against all expectations, in New Hampshire he found himself over 12,000 voters behind a revitalized John McCain, only gaining 32% of the Republican vote (which probably caused him to crap his magic underwear).

Fred Thompson: Fred could only muster 13% of the Republicans in Iowa, but he also gained three of the remaining four delegates in Wyoming, where they like old men who fall asleep a lot. (They also have a strong respect for ignorance there - trust me, I lived in Cheyenne for four years.) In New Hampshire, he only appealed to 1% of the GOP, earning almost exactly 2/3 as many votes as some guy named "Total Write-ins." Yes, you read that right. 2,886 people thought that Fred Thompson was a viable candidate, while 4,342 people literally voted for "Anybody except these guys!"

John McCain: While John earned slightly fewer votes in Iowa than Fred "Really, I'm 6 years younger than McCain!" Thompson, he was statistically even with him, at 13%. However, he seriously tore up New Hampshire, where 37% of the people voted for him. (On the other hand, does anybody remember that he won New Hampshire in 2000, too?)

Ron Paul: The contentious (if not batshit insane) no-longer-Libertarian contender managed to pull 10% of the vote in Iowa. He was also excluded from the Fox "News" New Hampshire debate, despite pulling in bigger Iowa numbers than 9iu11iani. (But that's OK. It gave him time to cross the picket lines and appear on The Tonight Show.) And interestingly enough, he then earned roughly two thousand votes less in New Hampshire than 9iu11iani, finding his message resonating with only 8% of the New Hampshire Republicans.

Rudy 9iu11iani: He may have only gained 3% of the vote, but he held to his usual strategy. He may have finished practically dead last among the Republican candidates (he beat out Duncan Hunter, but poor ol' Duncan brought in 0.0% of the vote, so I'm not sure he really counts). Rudy may have earned less than a third of the votes mustered by Ron Paul in Iowa and none of the delegates from Wyoming. But by God, he's going to tie this to 9/11 one way or another.
"None of this worries me - Sept. 11, there were times I was worried," Giuliani said.
Where do you go from there? The man is now officially his own stereotype. Oh, and only 9% of the New Hampshire voters liked him, for that matter.

Duncan Hunter: Like I said, 0% of the vote. He picked up a few votes here and there, but in Iowa, he was statistically irrelevant. On the other hand, he picked up the last remaining delegate in Wyoming and a big 1% of the vote in New Hampshire, so we probably shouldn't just write him off. (I’m going to, but that's just me.)

So, who does that leave? Oh, yeah, there's a whole other party, isn't there? You know, those guys that Fox News wants you to forget about?
Barack Obama: 38% of the Democrats went for Barack. And he didn't do it by the traditional method of courting the party favorites: he went after independents, college kids and other new voters. Most pundits are pointing at him as the direct cause of the outstanding voter turnout.

Personally, I think it's about time that America got a black president. Statistically, black men have been around 10-11% of the American population. Since we're on our way to electing our 44th president, we should have had at least four blacks so far. But all we've gotten is rich white men, which might be part of the problem. Perhaps it's time for somebody to notice that, of all of the people who wouldn't vote for a black man, none of them would vote for a Democrat anyway.

John Edwards: Somewhere along the line, people have been ignoring the conventional wisdom. Edwards, traditionally ignored by the mainstream media, pulled 30% of the Democratic vote. Of course, this was ignored in favor of coverage of McCain's triumphant emergence with 13% of the Republican vote (and only half as many Republicans as Democrats are going to the polls - remember?). But in New Hampshire, he was back to running a distant third, with 17% of the vote. Life sucks when you're a rich white guy, doesn't it?

Hillary Clinton: Although she's essentially tied with Edwards, at 30% of the Democratic vote, he's leading in actual votes gained. Also, if you followed my earlier logic regarding black presidents, we should have had 22 or 23 women presidents. However, I've never been a big fan of Hillary, so I'm not sure that it should be her. They didn't agree with me in New Hampshire, though, where 39% of the Democrats wanted her to drive the Big Chair.

Bill Richardson: Got a big 2% of the Iowa vote, and 5% in New Hampshire. Yes, he's my governor. Yes, I think he's actually the most qualified candidate. But Bill, I'm kind of glad you packed it in. There comes a time when you need to realize that you just aren’t going to win.

Joe Biden: With just under 1% of the Democrats voting for him (0.9%, if you really need the decimal places), Joe Biden has pulled out of the race. He seems to feel that his biggest problem is that the press was concentrating on the front three (Clinton, Edwards and Obama), and that might have been true: the only time he could get press was with his quote about Giuliani (that Rudy's message consisted of "a noun, a verb, and 9/11"). But at least he's got that highly-paid Senate job to go back to.

Chris Dodd: Managed to pull in only 0.02% of the Democratic vote. He came in with less than one-fifth of the vote that went to "I dunno." The man made a lot of sense, he talked a good race, but he really couldn't seem to fire up the voters. And you have to admit, it shows a certain amount of dedication to actually move your family to Iowa a couple of weeks back. And he's also got a Senate job to go back to, since he's also pulled out.

Dennis Kucinich: Didn't even score as high as Dodd. Sad. He had a hot wife, too. But he's still in there plugging away, despite the fact that he won't even be on the ballot in Texas.

Mike Gravel: In Iowa, he wasn't even on the radar. In New Hampshire, he did almost twice as well as Chris Dodd. But the difference between Gravel and Dodd is that Gravel doesn't have the good sense to back out gracefully. (His latest trick to woo young voters? He told them that pot was better than booze. I've got to say, it's an interesting strategy.)

There's more primaries coming up, and a lot of the voters aren't behaving like sheep this time around. So, overall, I think that the only conclusion we can draw is that it's going to be a long year.

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