A shambles

Last night's Iowa caucus was a triumph for the U.S. Democratic party's organization and a warning for Republicans. As Kos put it, all the Republicans had to do was give out pieces of paper, let people mark it, count them and put the numbers on a website.

The Democrats on the other hand, had to hold informal hustings, jostle around a room to form bunches, get counted, argue, haggle and plead the "unviable" candidates' supporters to switch, count again, and then post their results.

Guess which turned out quicker?

The Democrats had over 100,000 more votes to count, and did so more effectively. It got to the point that I never got a score out of the Republicans own website, whereas I found the Democrats to be very effective.

If this was Wyoming, or Massachusetts, it might not matter. But in the past 36 years, Iowa has changed from Republican to Democrat and back again several times.

In 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984, Iowa went Republican and the party's candidate won in cases apart from 1976. In 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000, Iowa's electoral college votes went to the Democratic party candidates, who won the presidency in 1992 and 1996. In 2004, the Republicans came back to narrowly win the state, by 10,059 votes out of a total 1,506,908. That's a majority of 0.73%. In a British parliamentary election this would be about equivalent to 540 votes in an average sized constitutency.

For those who remember the fuss made by some people about Ohio in the 2004 presidential election, the majority in Iowa was one third of that in the Buckeye state. Although there are "only" 7 electoral college votes in Iowa, a shambolic local organization by the Republicans is not a good omen for the coming election proper.

Kos is right. If the Republicans can't handle this caucus in Iowa, they're not about to sweep places like Pennsylvania or Michigan. He also has a point about the Mike Huckabee movement being a mirror of the Kossaks in 2004.

I would also add that Barak Obama has the look of a winner right now, in a way that no British Conservative has looked for the past 15 years. Considering that inexperience is the only serious objection (from a Democratic party perspective) to his taking his party's nomination, if he wins New Hampshire and John Edwards focuses on attacking Hillary Clinton, we could witness a sudden realignment.

Turning in

The news from Iowa is not great for Hillary Clinton, good for Barak Obama, lousy for Mitt Romney, good for Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson. Ron Paul leading Rudy Guliani, 3 to 1, is curiousity of the night.

I'm turning in. Further updates tomorrow.

Ron Paul thrashes Rudy

Ron Paul 2,425 11%
Rudy Giuliani 830 4%

after 25% of precincts reporting. Not bad for the Libertarians. Figure from Associated Press via Washington Post.

Giuliani comes back, threatens to overtake John McCain. Ouch! However, Mike Huckabee with less than 5% of the spending of Mitt Romney, appears to be making the case against "money buys elections."
Iowa Republican Caucuses Results
Candidate Votes * %
Mike Huckabee 14,045 31%
Mitt Romney 10,084 23%
Fred Thompson 5,950 13%
John McCain 5,194 12%
Rudy Giuliani 4,901 11%
Ron Paul 4,379 10%
Duncan Hunter 168 0%
Tom Tancredo 2 0%
Key: * Explainer: What are these votes? | Red Checkmark Winner
Precincts: 41% | Updated: 9:20 PM ET | Source: AP


I'm following the early Iowa caucus returns for the 2008 U.S. presidential election. The BBC's first error of the night was to predict that Republican returns would appear an hour before the Democrats.

In fact the Dems here got off to a brisk start.

The first result gave John Edwards 50% and Obama and Clinton 16.67% each.

For the Republicans here. Nothing as I write.

Latest figure:
Senator John Edwards : 34.24%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 32.12%
Senator Barack Obama : 30.28%
Governor Bill Richardson : 2.02%
Senator Joe Biden : 1.11%
Senator Chris Dodd : 0.14%
Uncommitted : 0.10%
Precincts Reporting: 205 of 1781

The pundits suggest Barak Obama will have strength in depth, which suggests that he can pick up in the later reporting precincts.
Latest figure 1:48am GMT
Senator John Edwards : 33.44%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 32.24%
Senator Barack Obama : 31.63%
Governor Bill Richardson : 1.80%
Senator Joe Biden : 0.78%
Senator Chris Dodd : 0.07%
Uncommitted : 0.05%
Precincts Reporting: 367 of 1781
(Percentages are State Delegate Equivalents.)

I was about to post figures showing Barak Obama ahead of Hillary Clinton, but the second place switched back. John Edwards is the leader though. But not by much...
Senator John Edwards : 32.52%
Senator Barack Obama : 32.41%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 32.15%

with 530 precincts reporting...
Senator Barack Obama : 32.70%
Senator John Edwards : 32.38%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 32.02%
If Clinton comes third it's an open contest.

UPDATE: (2:40am GMT)
Senator Barack Obama : 36.68%
Senator John Edwards : 30.24%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 29.99%
Governor Bill Richardson : 2.01%
Senator Joe Biden : 0.94%
Uncommitted : 0.11%
Senator Chris Dodd : 0.03%
Precincts Reporting: 1487 of 1781

Hillary Clinton below 30% is not good for her, but Edwards failing to pull ahead of her is OK. Barak Obama's team can certainly feel good right now.