Well, they are finally through caucusing in Iowa.
It's always intrigued me that Iowa, which only has seven electoral votes, gets such a disproportionate amount of attention, but I suppose that's why they go to such great lengths to have their caucus before any other state has a primary.
Caucus. I think caucus is an old Indian word which means go stand in the corner, because that's the way they do it up there, you know. Folks gather in fire stations and churches and school houses all over the state. They call the meeting to order and then you go and stand in the corner of the person you think would do the best job as president. Or at least, I assume that's the criteria most people use for making their decisions.
That's not the end of it, though. If there aren't enough folks standing in the same corner - like 15 percent of the total number of folks in the room, your candidate isn't considered viable. If that happens, you have to go and stand in somebody else's corner if you want your vote to count. But you don't get to do that until people from the other groups come over and explain to you why their guy - or gal - is best. And there is a lot of screaming and cheering and chanting thrown in just to make things entertaining.
I ain't making this up, y'all. That's the way they do it in Iowa. But then again, I guess it's hard to find a lot to do in Iowa in the winter time.
At any rate, the Iowa caucuses are over and there were some very interesting results on both sides of the proverbial political spectrum.
Why don't we start with the Democrats?
Barack Obama, who was born about three weeks before Roger Maris hit his 61st homerun - without the aid of steroids, by the way - won a resounding and somewhat surprising victory. The fact that he got the most people to stand in his corner is not so surprising but the margin of victory certainly was. He got 38 percent of the vote. Not bad for a guy who was an Illinois state senator the last time Iowans caucused in the corners of their fire stations and churches.
And just as surprising as the fact that Obama got such a large plurality was the fact that John Edwards finished in second place. He's a linthead, you know. Born in South Carolina and raised in a North Carolina mill village. Edwards, during all the pre-caucus polling, was considered an also-ran. The former John Kerry running-mate was supposed to finish well behind the two Democratic frontrunners, Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who seems to believe the presidency is her divine right.
It didn't work out that way. Edwards got 30 percent of the vote and Clinton received 29 percent, which just goes to show that despite all the scientific polls and media analysis, you never know what a voter will do until it's time to drop the ballot in the box - or in this case, time to go stand in the corner.
The Republican caucus - they vote on paper ballots by the way - was surprising in its own way. Again, the surprise is not because of who won, but because of the margin of victory. Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist minister who four years ago was best known for being the only United States governor who lived in a trailer - his wife insists to this day that it was a "manufactured home" - garnered 34 percent of the votes cast in the Republican caucus. His primary opponent, Mitt Romney, only managed 25 percent. The other Republican candidates, including John McCain, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul, were not viable, according to Iowa's standards.
But here's the deal: Mitt Romney, who six weeks ago was the heavy favorite in most public opinion polls, spent more than $7 million campaigning in Iowa. Huckabee spent $300,000. I heard him say so on the Jay Leno Show, and you know that if you hear it on Jay Leno, it's the gospel.
Huckabee was outspent 15 to 1 and still trounced Romney.
Many pundits believe that a series of attack ads that Romney ran in the weeks leading up to the caucuses may have backfired on the former Massachusetts governor. Romney put a different spin on things, however. He called the negative ads "contrast" ads and claimed that they helped him close the gap on the 22-point lead Huckabee held in the polls before the attack ads began running.
And now it is on to New Hampshire, and I can't wait to see what happens in the Granite State. No wonder they call politics a spectator sport.
And for the record - yes, we are kin, and I'm not sure why his side of the family started spelling their name wrong.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.