By Joel Wendland
The results of the Democratic Party's caucus in Iowa are:
Senator Barack Obama : 37.57%
Senator John Edwards : 29.76%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 29.46%
with about 3.5% going to the rest.
What this all means at this point is pure speculation. I think it is fair to say that this has become a three person race. Sen. Clinton's financial backers were reportedly worried about this outcome, according to the New York Times, but she has a long way to go before she can be counted out.
Edwards is going to have to win soon to keep going, as he doesn't have the resources to continue to come in second or third. He may also have to work on broadening his appeal.
Sen. Obama can lock things up with a couple of swift victories in New Hampshire and overcoming strong odds in Nevada and South Carolina. (Michigan's primary on Jan. 15th really doesn't count as the Democratic Party isn't recognizing it and Sen. Clinton is the only competitive candidate on the ballot.)
But the big story of the night isn't the numbers, the dollars, or the candidates. It is the sheer numbers of people who turned out for this grueling caucus process. TV people are saying 236,000 people participated in the Democratic Party caucuses: about double that of the Republican Party caucus and well more than the 125,000 people who turned out for the Democrats in 2004.
In droves Iowans, who by a slim majority voted for Bush in 2004, are demanding a new direction in US politics and society. I think they want the war to end, they want universal health care, a serious focus on workers issues (good-paying jobs and rights), they want to mobilize our resources to tackle global warming, and they want a break with failed ultra right policies advanced by the Bush administration.