Iowa 2.0

For Barack Obama, Iowa just keeps on giving. First they handed him a decisive victory in the Democratic caucus in January. Then at this weekend’s district conventions, they gave him a second win in which he netted another nine pledged delegates, bringing his state total to 25. And with two more rounds of voting to go one in April and one in June he essentially gets four headlines for the price of one.

Obama’s gain comes at the expense of John Edwards, who lost eight delegates (so much for loyalty), and Clinton, who lost one. Perhaps talking smack about the caucus process wasn’t the wisest move.

Just for perspective: Clinton netted nine delegates in Ohio. Obama’s victories in Wyoming and Mississippi erased her gains from Ohio and Texas. Now Iowa 2.0 puts him in the post-March 5 lead and brings the total pledged delegate count to 1,409 and 1,250, by NBC’s count.

So, could the same thing happen in other caucus states? Clinton won the first round of Nevada voting (despite Obama winning more delegates), but Obama appeared to make gains in some counties in the second round of voting in February. (We won’t know statewide totals until Clark County, whose convention descended into chaos , holds a redo.) Other caucus states—Kansas, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, and others—hold second rounds of voting, which could give Obama intermittent delegate bounces.

I imagine this is what the rest of the Democratic contest will look like. There won’t be a knockout blow; just a series of small victories that will slowly bleed one candidate or another—but probably one in particular —of delegates. There are still potential game-changers, like a scandal that swings the superdelegates or a lopsided solution to the Florida and Michigan debacles. But chances are the race is going to drag on painfully until one candidate gives in to the math. If Hillary thinks she hates caucuses now, wait till they’re all done voting.