The Grandpa Gazette

Location: Fairfax, Virginia, United States

Sunday, January 06, 2008

After Iowa

January 4, 2008

1. Yesterday morning, January 3, Intrade, the site where people bet (or invest, if you prefer) on the candidates, was selling Obama to win Iowa at $70 and Clinton at $24, or, to put it another way, those willing to put their money up were betting almost 3 to 1 for Obama. They were selling Huckabee at $60 and Romney at $36, or 1.7 to 1 on Huckabee. So the bettors are pretty smart people.

Yesterday Intrade was giving Clinton 64 to eventually win the Democratic nomination versus 30.5 for Obama. TODAY it is 54 to 43, still giving Clinton the edge, but a dramatic narrowing of the odds.

Yesterday the betting on the eventual winner of the GOP nomination was McCain 27, Giuliani 22.5, Romney 21, and Huckabee 12. TODAY it is McCain 31.5, Giuliani 29.0, Huckabee 16.1, Romney 15.5. In other words, Romney down by 26 percent --in a single day! -- to the benefit of all three of the others. How could Iowa help the chances for Rudy, who came in sixth, behind Ron Paul? The unsentimental bettors still have doubts about McCain's viability over the long haul, as well as, obviously, Romney's. Rudy is the beneficiary of that.

Of course the New Hampshire results on Tuesday will have another dramatic effect on the betting. As of TODAY, Intrade is giving 65 to Obama, 40 to Clinton and 72 to McCain, 24 to Romney. If the bettors are as smart in NH as they were in Iowa, then I would expect them to wipe Romney out of the betting on Wednesday. Huckabee will probably tread water (unless he surprises in NH) until the bettors see how he does in SC. As for the Dems, a loss in NH would obviously bruise Hillary, but not necessarily end her chances. Long way to go.

2. One indication of that is that the delegate count is much closer than the vote percentages. Iowa awarded 16 delegates to the Democratic National Convention to Obama, 15 to Clinton, and 14 to Edwards. Huckabee won 17, Romney 12, and all the others 8. It's still a very close race.

3. The opinion polls, moreover, still give Hillary the edge in NH, 35 to 24 for Obama and 17 for Edwards. They are giving McCain 32, Romney 28, Giuliani 11, Huckabee 9. It will be interesting to see how Iowa affects the NH polls, although the time is so short that the effect may be greater on the voters than it would appear from last-minute polls.

4. The most obvious point about the Iowa results is that voters are desperate for new faces, new ideas, somebody to break the inaction and deadlock and drift they see in national affairs. The other point worth noting is that so much is written and spoken in the media about organization, and O, C and Romney all had superb (and expensive) organizations in Iowa. But not much is written about mobilization, the ability of candidates to mobilize voters, or, to use a cornier word, inspire them. O and H demonstrated that ability, and both gave - in very different ways - great victory speeches. Hillary also gave a great speech last night, showing courage, determination, competence, all those things she has been showing. But inspiring? Rousing to enthusiasm? Not so much.