In a world where 24-hour news cycles blare headlines of world-ending proportions that soon are eclipsed by similar headlines on other fast-moving topics, it would be easy to make too much of the Iowa caucuses held Thursday night. Avoid the urge.
However, a few lessons can be learned. One is that, despite Mike Huckabee's claim to the contrary, negative advertising does have an impact. And, also despite his claim, he was guilty of using it to his advantage. There likely aren't too many other states in which this former Arkansas governor will be a top contender, but his clever press conference to unveil negative ads he said he wasn't going to use against Mitt Romney apparently did what it was calculated to do.
That, plus a generous turnout of evangelical voters, brought him the largest portion of the Republican caucus votes. Romney's campaign is not dead, but it needs a win elsewhere soon to keep going.
The other lesson is that Barak Obama is a real force to be reckoned with in the Democratic Party. His support among young people in Iowa was impressive, as was the fact that an almost all-white state would choose a black man to head a party ticket. Race apparently won't be a factor in 2008, although religion apparently will. The underhanded and only slightly veiled attacks on Romney's religion ought to outrage all Americans, regardless of whether they like him as a candidate.
Obama came out of Iowa as a clear threat to Hillary Clinton's candidacy, which was perhaps the most important thing to take away from these caucuses.
It makes little sense for a state the size of Iowa to generate so much attention in the race for party nominations. Nor does it make sense for New Hampshire, next week's primary election site, to be next in line. In some years, those states have succeeded in altering the political landscape, despite the fact that Iowans and New Hampshirites do not necessarily think or feel as do people elsewhere in the country.
This year, however, it appears that Utahns actually will get a chance to be heard before the races are decided. Utah will be one of several states participating in a Feb. 5 super primary. Regardless of what happens next week, the major candidates are likely to hang on at least that long.
Nominations are, ultimately, party affairs. Through the years, however, the process has become more democratic. That's a good thing, generally, although the process obviously needs work. Iowa, happily, was not the final word.