[Guest post by DRJ]
For the Democrats:
Iowa helps Barack Obama, not only because he won but also because it suggests race won’t be an issue in some states.
Iowa hurt Hillary Clinton, not only because she came in third but because third place tarnishes her aura of invincibility. She billed herself as the experienced, invincible candidate but Democrats prefer change to experience, leaving her strong point as invincibility … and she’s not.
Despite his second-place finish, Iowa hurt John Edwards because he sells himself as the candidate who cares about people that can’t make it on their own. If that doesn’t sell in Iowa, it won’t sell many places. It didn’t sell.
Iowa hurt Bill Richardson because he couldn’t get anywhere near double digits. But he may have done well enough that it helped his chances to be considered as a VP.
Iowa hurt Joe Biden, Mike Gravel, Chris Dodd, and Dennis Kucinich because they lost … big. Dodd and Biden have already announced they will drop out, and Gravel and Kucinich might as well have.
For the Republicans:
Iowa was a godsend for Mike Huckabee because it anoints him as a credible candidate. He should and probably will get a campaign donation bounce from Iowa but it looks like this win was disproportionately due to evangelical turnout. It’s hard to know if he can replicate this elsewhere.
Iowa hurt Mitt Romney primarily because he had been favored to win and he put a lot of money into winning. Worse yet for Romney, this result suggests that evangelicals are motivated to vote and they won’t vote for Romney.
Iowa hurt John McCain and Fred Thompson to the extent they had to scrap for leftover votes but, overall, I think it helped them both stay in the hunt. The big question will be which one can use this result to bring in funds and endorsements.
Iowa helped Ron Paul a great deal because he finished in double digits, just a few thousand votes shy of McCain and Thompson. No matter how much Republicans try, the fringe label won’t stick to Paul as long as he polls in double digits. It may also encourage him to run as an independent.
Even though he did not campaign, Iowa hurt Rudy Giuliani because he only got 3% of the vote. It painted him as a non-issue in an entire state. Giuliani is at his best in the spotlight, not marginalized on the sidelines.
One down, 49 to go.