Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee won the Democratic and Republican caucuses in Iowa respectively.
Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, bested Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, 37-30 percent according to media projections late Thursday. Clinton and Edwards tied at 30.
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, thrashed Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor 34 to 25 percent in the Republican caucuses.
The candidates now go on to New Hampshire, the second voting state in elections to select party nominees. Clinton, who polls well nationally, is still strong in New Hampshire and could recapture her earlier “inevitable” halo with a decisive win there. Romney, however, could be crippled by the Iowa showing; he has spent millions in the state and huge amounts of time campaigning, and now faces a strong campaign from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in New Hampshire.
Huckabee’s come from behind surge has bewildered the Republican establishment; his Iowa win was due in no small part to Christian evangelicals who admire the former Baptist pastor.
Obama has always enjoyed strong Jewish support since entering state politics in Illinois in 1996, although some in the pro-Israel establishment are wary of his calls to negotiate with rogue states such as Syria and Iran. Huckabee has alarmed some Jewish leaders with his overtly Christian campaign. One of his television ads in Iowa labeled him a “Christian leader.”
A recent American Jewish Committee poll showed that Jewish Democrats favor Clinton and Jewish Republicans favor Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, by wide margins. Giuliani, who did not campaign in Iowa, polled only 4 percent in the caucuses.
The other surprise of the night was the relatively strong showing of Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and “Law and Order” actor, who came in third in Iowa’s Republican caucuses, with 14 percent. Reports had earlier suggested that Thompson was ready to call off his campaign.