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.

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