Reading Iowa’s Entrails

The dust is settling in the Iowa Caucus, and it appears that Barack Obama has pulled off a win, dealing an early black eye to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in particular. While it’s too early to read a lot from the win, the most interesting thing about Iowa may not be which Democratic candidate won, but how he won. Clinton’s appeal, according to pundits, is to older voters and particularly women. She is supposed to be the Democrat capable of appealing to the rightmost edge of the party, voters who will supposedly be swayed by her credentials as a Democratic hawk and experienced political operator. The numbers in Iowa may reveal an on-the-ground weakness in the Clinton campaign not previously perceived; if any of Hillary’s key demographics (females, older voters, conservative Dems) are breaking more in Obama’s favor, Iowa could reveal what ultimately proves to be the unraveling of Hillary’s White House bid. It’s not necessary that Obama necessarily take a majority of any of those groups; he needs only to take more of Hillary’s thunder then was expected. Simply defying expectations in Iowa may be enough to put big cracks in the media narrative of Hillary as the “safe” candidate who appeals to the middle of the road.

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