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Obama Wins Iowa's Democratic Caucuses
According to the NEP entrance poll of caucus-goers, half of those change voters favored Obama with a fifth each supporting Clinton and Edwards.
Clinton, seeking to become the first female president in U.S. history, had staked her hopes in part on winning decisively among women. Fifty-seven percent of the caucus attendees were women, but the NEP entrance poll showed Obama winning the support of 35 percent of women, compared with 30 percent for Clinton.
Obama won overwhelmingly among young voters, who constituted about a fifth of caucus participants, winning 57 percent of those younger than 30. He also won among voters 30 to 44 and split with Edwards and Clinton among those 45 to 60. Clinton won those voters older than 60.
The two candidates also roughly split the votes of self-identified Democrats, who constituted about three-quarters of all caucus participants. But among independents, Obama swamped both Edwards and Clinton.
Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said of the record turnout: "These were numbers you'd expect almost in a primary. The prodigious turnout was breathtaking, and it eclipsed anything I heard predicted. It's just fabulous to see people engaged in this way."
One crucial group, he said, was young voters. "Younger voters participated in far greater numbers than ever before," said Axelrod as he studied the screen of his BlackBerry, still appearing somewhat stunned by the returns.
In her stump speech in recent days, Clinton has often said that "you learn as much about a person when they don't succeed as when they do." The reference was to her failure to achieve health-care reform in the 1990s, which she says did not hurt her determination.
But the axiom will now apply to her presidential campaign, dealt a severe blow in the Iowa caucuses. Even before the returns were in, her campaign advisers buzzed about whether there would be a staff shakeup or a change of message.
Staff writer Peter Slevin in Iowa and polling director Jon Cohen and polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta in Washington contributed to this report.