Thursday, January 3, 2008

5 Missed Trends From The Iowa Caucus

The 2008 Iowa Caucuses have come and past, with Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee the big winners. There isn't good news for everyone, with both Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropping out. Here are some angles on the caucus that aren't getting as much coverage:

1) If Mike Huckabee ends up winning the Republican nomination, this ad should be put with LBJ's Daisy ad and George HW Bush's Willie Horton ad as one of the most effective political ads ever. You can claim that FairTax proponents and evangelicals are responsible for Huckabee's support, but the media seems to completely discount the enormous popularity Chuck Norris has. As far as endorsements go, only Oprah Winfrey is even close to having the same appeal as Norris.

2) The big story is that the youth vote came out in substantial force for Barack Obama, with him getting an astonishing 57% of 17-29 year olds. A less-reported story is that Ron Paul received 21% (about double his overall support) of the Republican 17-29 vote, putting him in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney for 2nd place. Ron Paul certainly has a base of core supporters that are generally dismissed as extremists, but he also has an astonishing amount of youth support.

3) I'm glad that nobody has tried to claim that Obama is from "Iowa's backyard" this election cycle. In 2004, everyone made sure to point out that Dick Gephardt is from Missouri, and that supposedly he had a significant advantage from being local. It was a silly argument then, and it would be a silly argument now. I hope this is a sign of a better press corps than in 2004.

4) The entrance polls have cross-sections by income, and the most interesting results are on the Republican side. Romney had plurality support among voters with household incomes of above 100k per year. However, both Huckabee and Ron Paul have substantially higher support among poorer voters. This may be related to their higher support among evangelical Republicans and young voters. However, this theory is discounted by the Democratic results, where there are no significant differences by income despite Obama's higher support among young voters. It's interesting to see that class is the big differentiator on the Republican side, but not the Democratic side.

5) The popular meme in 2004 was "electability", a word which has only a vague meaning. In 2008, electability wasn't a popular term, but some people still picked it as their most important issue. Among Republicans concerned about electability, Romney is the most popular candidate. Among Democrats, Edwards wins electability voters. I'm not sure whether "electability" is supposed to mean "presidential looking establishment white male", but that looks like what it may mean to voters.

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