Obama wins Iowa caucus by sizeable margin

James Heggen

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill won the Iowa Caucuses on Thursday, with a convincing win of 8 percent of the vote.

Leading up in the up to the caucus, Obama was in a statistical tie in most polls with Sen. Hilary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C. Steffen Schmidt, university professor in political science, said the reason Obama won by such a large margin was because of the youth vote.

“Because a group that almost never participates politically a lot, suddenly showed up on caucus night and just blew the doors off, and that’s 17-29 year-olds,” he said.

He added that 40 percent of those who showed up for the Democratic caucuses were between 17-44 years old.

Schmidt said he is still studying exactly why this year so many young people came out to participate, but did some explanations.

He said Obama’s age, background, ideas and the fact that he is not “part of the establishment” all appealed to the younger voting bloc. Schmidt said he also has a great deal of “charisma.”

“The second thing is I think he offered a solution to how to solve problems that involves both Democrats and Republicans,” he said.

Schmidt said instead of trashing the Republicans, he talked about making solutions that would involve those on both sides of the isle.

“That really made the Iowa Caucuses, actually on both the Democratic and Republican side, kind future oriented,” he said.

Out of the top three finishers, Obama, Clinton and Edwards, Schmidt said he thought Edwards had the biggest problem.

“It is going to be a mighty, gigantic challenge for him to try and catch up, I think, either or both Obama and Clinton in New Hampshire,” he said.

Schmidt said he didn’t think Edwards would do very well in New Hampshire and should try to “rebound” in South Carolina. However, he isn’t doing very well there and doesn’t think he can move up there.

Schmidt said he thought Clinton wasn’t in trouble even after her finish in Iowa.

The victory in Iowa may actually help Obama in South Carolina, where there is a large African-American voting bloc among Democrats in South Carolina, where they were concerned that a candidate like Obama could not win because of the history of racism.

“Well, white Iowa gave him first place, and I have a feeling that his is going to have a good impact,” he said. “I think Obama, from Iowa, is going to get a big bounce and he’ll pass Hilary Clinton.”

As for Clinton, Schmidt said that Iowa “set off an alarm bell.”

He said the Iowa results caused the Clinton campaign to examine its strategy.

For New Hampshire, Schmidt said is history repeats itself; Obama will either win or tie Clinton because of the boost a candidate gets from an Iowa victory.

Outside of the top three finishers, former Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., is “close to be irrelevant,” Schmidt said.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, is irrelevant now as well.

After New Hampshire, the next big contest for the candidates is South Carolina.

Brent Wynja, vice chair of the Story County Democrats, said he was very surprised by the results of the caucus. He said he thought the race would have been closer.