The results are in from the Iowa Caucuses, the first bit of actual voting in the battle to become the next US president. As expected, Mike Huckabee won a convincing victory among the Republicans, well clear of Mitt Romney. And Barack Obama was first among the Democrats, as John Edwards pushed Hillary Clinton into third. Aside from some no-hopers who have now pulled out after dismal showings, none of the serious contenders suffered a knockout blow.
With the next contest, the New Hampshire primary, taking place on Tuesday, there's not too much time for the candidates to capitalise on their performances in Iowa. Usually a strong showing leads to more money and more media attention, and the man most in need of that on the Democrats' side is Edwards. He pinned his hopes on victory in Iowa, and focused mainly on the state, which is why he's a fair bit behind both Obama and Clinton in polls in New Hampshire. Although second place ahead of Clinton is enough to keep him in the race, he'll need to at least match that on Tuesday to avoid looking like a busted flush.
The Republican race is even harder to judge, because two of the main contenders didn't really bother with Iowa. John McCain has put all his energies into New Hampshire, hoping a victory there can give him the edge over the rest. Rudy Giuliani, as socially liberal as mainstream Republicans get, isn't really trying in either Iowa or New Hampshire, reasoning the right-wing Republicans of both states won't really take to him anyway. He's instead waiting for Super Tuesday, when a series of big states across the nation votes, and hoping his attempt at campaigning across the country will pay off.
As for Huckabee, few people really expect him to win the Republican nomination, despite his victory in Iowa. He's been nowhere in polls elsewhere, but if he can pick up momentum on the back of his triumph, he could yet become a genuine contender. The real loser looks to be Mitt Romney, who outspent Huckabee 20 to one by some estimates in Iowa, yet failed to win. He's got deep pockets so won't necessarily leave the race with a disappointing showing in New Hampshire, but his hopes are now looking remote.
As for New Hampshire itself, it used to be a nearly-decisive contest. But George W Bush managed to recover from his defeat to McCain there in 2000 to take the Republican nomination. This time, it's a state where the race won't be won, but could certainly be lost.