DES MOINES - Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, two political sensations delivering messages of change and conciliation, captured the first victories of the 2008 presidential campaign yesterday, winning their parties' Iowa caucuses decisively after hard-fought, wide-open contests.
Obama cruised to victory amid a stunning, record turnout of first-time caucus-goers, capturing almost 38 percent of the vote in a race that drew nearly 240,000 Democrats - about twice the GOP turnout - on a bone-chilling night. Former senator John Edwards of North Carolina ran a shade ahead of Senator Hillary Clinton of New York for second place, each polling just over 29 percent.
In the GOP race, Huckabee, a Baptist minister, used his populist, folksy style to stitch together a loose coalition of evangelical Christians and conservatives to beat Mitt Romney, despite the former Massachusetts governor's huge cash advantage, superior organization, and attack-ad campaign. Huckabee won, 34 percent to 25 percent. - Boston Globe