I'm not familiar enough with the Iowa Caucus process to pass decisive judgment, though what I've read about it always makes me question the sanity of the process. But as an early momentum generator, as a signal to those who tend to vote for front-runners, and as a determinant of what stories the media spins, it's probably more important than the 1% of delegates it chooses. In that respect, I read the results as a confirmation of the momentum and confidence Obama and his campaign have been feeling for the last month or so.
I just watched his victory speech on replay on CNN. It's nothing new if you've heard him speak at all recently; he reiterates many of the same messages, using almost identical wording as he used when I heard him speak in Los Angeles. And yet he still fires me up more than any other candidate in my lifetime. The man can bring some rhetorical heat.
Some other telling indicators. People under 30 preferred Obama over Clinton by a huge margin; I've read the difference as in the neighborhood of 57% to 11%. 57%!!! People under 30 made up over a third of Obama's support. 22% of Iowa Democrats at the caucus were less than age 30, compared to 17% in 2004.
Obama won 35% of the votes from women versus 30% for Clinton.
Among independents, Obama won 41% of the vote versus Clinton's 17%.
Youth, women, independents. Yes, yes, small sample size, but that's three critical groups to win.
Look at the trading prices of Clinton and Obama's Presidential Nominee shares over the last 7 days (a share price of 50 would mean that traders believe that event has a 50% chance of happening):
For the Democrats as a group, an incredibly positive sign is that twice as many people showed up for the Democrats as the Republicans.
This is going to be an interesting month.