Following a long year of campaigning, the Presidential candidates can finally leave Iowa, and the victors are two fresh faces on the political scene: former governor Mike Huckabee (R., Ark.) and Sen.Barack Obama (D., Ill).
With all precincts reporting, Obama pulled away from the Democratic field with 37.58% of the vote. Former Sen. John Edwards (D., NC) and Sen.Hillary Clinton finished in a virtual tie for second place. Edwards had 29.75%; Clinton had 29.47%.
Obama had surfaced as the marginal leader in some polls heading into yesterday's caucus. The only questions left was whether or not new caucus goers and independents would show for the Senator from nearby Illinois. It appears that they did with independents in particular favoring Obama. Participation in the Democratic caucus about doubled that seen in the 2004 campaign.
In the Republican caucus, Huckabee earned 34% of the vote and also garnered a seven point percentage victory over former governor Mitt Romney (R., Mass.) who finished with 25%. Fred Thompson snuck into third place with 13%, edging out fourth-place finisher Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) by 283 votes.
Entrance polls showed that Huckabee scored particularly well with two groups: Christian evangelicals and women. In fact, some 56% of Huckabee's supporters said that religion played a part in their decision to vote for him. Huckabee is a former Southern Baptist minister.
The candidates hustled out of Iowa to prepare for next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.