The political buzz in Washington Friday morning after Democrat Barack Obama swept the Iowa vote was over his ability to have energized and motivated young, first-time voters in the midwestern state.
Analysts noted the record turnout in Iowa - more than 200,000 - to select party candidates for the presidency, and said Obama had captured large numbers of the new voters.
As Senator Obama, who seeks to become the first African-American president in US history, headed for the next state vote in New Hampshire on Tuesday, the dust was still settling on his surprising margin of victory with 38 per cent of the Democratic vote.
That compared to his rivals John Edwards, who placed second with 30 per cent, and Senator Hillary Clinton, the former first lady who placed third after riding at the top of Iowa polls for months.
Analysts observed Obama's ability to appeal to independent voters, who made up 20 per cent of the Iowa vote on Thursday. He captured 41 per cent of that vote, according to CNN, which puts him in a strong position for New Hampshire, where 40 per cent of voters are independents. Not all states allow independents to participate in presidential nomination primaries.
"If Barack Obama can attract that many independents ... if he looks like a unifying figure, he could go right on from here and storm a lot of primaries," one CNN analyst said.
While Clinton had hoped for support among women voters, that too evaporated for her. Only older women gave Clinton, who is 60, the majority of their vote, while middle age women gave her second place and younger women voters put her third, after Obama and Edwards.
Republican Mike Huckabee, a former governor and Baptist minister who took the lion's share of his party's Iowa vote with 34 per cent, appealed to the 60 per cent of Iowa voters who are born-again, evangelical Christians, said Tim Russert of NBC news. He said the real test for Huckabee would be New Hampshire, where voters place less emphasis on religion.
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