It almost doesn't matter who won (Barack Obama with a huge 38 percent of the vote). The real story is that the long-supposed front runner leaves Iowa this morning with a bronze medal.
In her speech thanking voters, though certainly not conceding anything, Hillary mildly rebuked the Iowa Caucus system for its inaccessibility to those who work nights or are in the military. No mention though of the possibility that the out-in-the-open, stand-under-a-sign phenomenon of the Democratic process might have, given her polarizing nature, scared skittish voters into the trendier (or kinder and gentler) "change" groups under the Obama and Edwards signs.
To find out what happened, please
In what had to be a bitter speech to give, because like her or not, she obviously worked her guts out in Iowa, Hillary said,
"Now, you know, we have always planned to run a national campaign all the way through the early contests, because I want the people of America, and particularly Democrats, and like-minded independents . . . (LAUGHTER) . . . and Republicans who have seen the light . . . (APPLAUSE) . . . to understand, number one, that the stakes are huge, that the job is enormous, but that I believe we’re going to make the right decision."
And because that national campaign now moves on to more urban, perhaps Hillary-friendly settings (and given that she's got plenty of money) she also has the comfort of history on her side. Not only did Bill Clinton also come in third in Iowa, he only scraped together three percent of the vote, and lost again (though a stronger second place) in New Hampshire. And you'd have to mine the results earlier than 1980 to find a Democrat who won Iowa, then the Party's nomination, and then the White House.
So the third place slot doesn't seem too terrible — though the last candidate to have the view from that seat was Howard Dean, and well, he has a very nice job now. Not President, but nice. (At least there was no "Dean Scream" from Hillary last night . . . )
Well, at least we've still got a hot race on our hands!