The hype surrounding the Iowa caucuses went from high to ridiculous last night. It is even becoming hard for me to resist, particularly since my preferred candidate is the beneficiary. Yet Obama supporters should not get overconfident, as many more, and much bigger states are still to come. Things can easily end up very different than they appear right now. I still believe the real decision point will be on Feb 5 and not before. There is no reason for Edwards or Clinton supporters to even think of giving up before then, and not even reason to get discouraged.
With the much greater Democratic turnout than in any previous Iowa caucus, some of my concerns about the caucus system were alleviated. Even still, the number of caucus voters was much smaller than the number of people who will be voting in November, and a small fraction of the total voting age population of the state.
As Kevin Drum pointed out last night, "It's funny how sometimes you have to wait and see how you actually react to something to know how you're going to react to something." In this sense, this first official voting of the primary season will likely end up very meaningful to many of us after all, in giving us a significant push towards or away from certain candidates. It's impossible not to pay attention to that, as it happens inside our own heads. So I overstated things in my previous post. The immediate results do not matter, but the effect they have on the rest of us is quite real and important.
In Drum's case, the effect seems to have -- temporarily, at least -- knocked him out of his long-held, vague anti-Obama attitude. In my case, it confirmed that I am an Obama supporter -- a direction I had already been headed strongly in but hadn't fully arrived at. It also helped me realize that I would be satisfied without Hillary Clinton as the nominee, and so am certainly not in her camp despite my positive feelings about her.
As for Edwards, I would be happy with him as the nominee, yet I feel Obama is a stronger candidate with a much higher upside for the long term. So I am hoping to see Obama come out on top when the "real action" starts on February 5.