Chutes and Ladders

Posted January 4, 2008 at 5:54pm

By now, the media have spent several days chewing over the Iowa caucus results. But for Capitol Hill denizens, the Republican and Democratic contests in the Hawkeye State produced their own particular set of winners and losers — some obvious, others less so. On to New Hampshire!

Winners

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
Yes, the skinny young guy with the funny name may be closer to being the 44th POTUS than anyone else.

Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa)
The three Democratic House Members from the Hawkeye State each endorsed one of the frontrunners. Loebsack’s horse came in first.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.)
The heavily targeted freshman was front and center during Obama’s first post-caucus appearance in New Hampshire. Can’t hurt. New Hampshire’s other Democratic Member, Rep. Paul Hodes, also is an Obama supporter, and he was there, too.

Reps. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), John Linder (R-Ga.) and Don Young (R-Alaska)
The only four Members to endorse former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R). They can bask in the glory for now. But whether they — or their candidate — remain in the winner’s circle is very much an open question.

Red State Democrats
Most would rather have the black guy at the top of the ticket in November than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). They may get their wish.

Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) kids
They get their lives back.

No Clear Outcome

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
He’s coming on strong in New Hampshire. But try as they might, the media couldn’t push him into that “strong third-place finish” in Iowa they were hoping for.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)
Lives to fight another day. Likely to be more of a factor in New Hampshire than he was in Iowa. But at some point he’ll turn back into a pumpkin. The question then becomes whether he’ll run in November as an Independent.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)
The veneer of inevitability was already off, and a third-place finish didn’t help. Purporting to be an agent of change during her concession speech while surrounded by Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Wes Clark was a little strange. Obama is this week’s glamor boy and he’s likely to get a very real bounce out of Iowa. But anyone who would count out the Clinton machine, and the Senator’s sheer will to win, is a fool.

Losers

Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)
This just wasn’t your year, fellas. Luckily the gavels are decent consolation prizes.

Former Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.)
You don’t want to be the campaign manager to a candidate who doesn’t have any place to go. That looks to be the situation that former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), Bonior’s candidate, finds himself in.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.)
His third-place tie Thursday may not have been the wipeout some pundits were predicting. But after all the hype, it’s hard to construct a scenario for his victory. He’s the John Connally of 2008.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)
Endorsed Thompson late. A lot of good it did Thompson. And you think it makes King’s feints for Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) seat any stronger?

Former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D)
Her husband, Bill Shaheen, a Democratic powerbroker in his own right, had to resign last month as Clinton’s co-chairman following some intemperate remarks about Obama. Then a poll showed the former governor trailing Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) in their rematch, after months of being ahead. She’s far from dead yet, and a Clinton win in New Hampshire probably would help. But she doesn’t appear invincible anymore.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)
Phone home.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.)
His comment to The Washington Post the day after the caucus that Obama couldn’t attack Clinton because it would remind people of O.J. was downright bizarre.

Club for Growth and EMILY’s List
Two powerhouse groups in their respective political parties took it on the chin in Iowa. An hour before Iowa Democrats showed up at their caucuses, EMILY’s List put out a lengthy e-mail touting all the work it had done there on Clinton’s behalf. Oops. Meanwhile, the club spent months whacking Huckabee over his fiscal record as governor. It didn’t help. Maybe it’s time to be FOR someone in this presidential election.