The Iowa caucus is this evening, starting around 7 pm central time. By the end of the night, each party will have some winners and losers, though the power and meaning of the caucus may not be clear until a few months from now.
My government classes and I have been talking, watching the polls, and tracking the process. Setting aside our sense that the Iowa caucus may very well be an albatross around the neck of the political process (that's a post for a later date), today we made our predictions for the top three vote-getters in the Hawkeye state.
For the Democrats, we see close margins.....29, 27, 25...or something like that. For the Republicans, we see Huckabee and Romney close, with McCain in the doubles.
We agree that an Edwards victory in the Democratic camp means that this race is a real contest between the big three (Obama, Clinton, and Edwards). Edwards looks to have the most to gain tonight and, if she comes in third, Clinton will have the most to lose.
For the GOP, we see Rudy Giuliani coming in nearly at the end of the pack, predictable since he hasn't really campaigned in Iowa, but a hard narrative to combat with New Hampshire and South Carolina so close on the heels of the caucus. Huckabee needs to be in the top two. For Romney, a distant second to Huckabee could hurt. McCain seems to have little to lose in Iowa (he didn't work that hard in the state), but much to gain if he places in the top three.
Let the voting begin.
Update: We were pretty accurate in our estimates and, in the day-after analysis we are impressed with both the breadth and the depth of the Obama victory. He's got 5 days to capitalize on the victory. As for Huckabee, he's got the advantage of low expectations in New Hampshire. But after that, he and his campaign must be ready for a big national contest.