COLUMBIA -- The surge of young, motivated voters that carried U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois to victory in Iowa could signal the passing of Democratic leadership to a new generation, experts said Friday.
That could spell big trouble for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, the onetime Democratic front-runner. Unless she wins Tuesday in New Hampshire, experts said, Clinton's campaign could face a campaign-ending reckoning when S.C. Democrats vote Jan. 26.
Meanwhile, the Republican Iowa caucus victory of former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas once again showed the power of evangelical voters.
Those voters make up the largest segment of Republican voters in South Carolina, where polls show Huckabee leading.
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Entrance polling and interviews in Iowa suggest the record turnout was driven by first-time voters, women and young voters. For many, Obama was emblematic of their optimism.
"Winning the new voters, that's something that could carry through on the Democratic side," said Danielle Vinson, a political scientist at Furman University. "There's enthusiasm on the Democratic side that we haven't seen in forever.
"He's young, he's enthusiastic, he's dynamic. I think that really could change the (party) leadership or at least the face of it."
Blease Graham, a University of South Carolina political scientist, agreed, adding the results show Obama has made inroads among Clinton's base.
"That's true, particularly with the registration drive for younger voters," Graham said. "The energy with the big rally with Oprah Winfrey cut a little into the gender advantage that Clinton had."
Clinton and fellow rival, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, maintain Thursday's Iowa results do not change their strategy.
Both still expect to win South Carolina.
"It shows what great candidates we have," said Lessie Price, co-chairwoman of Clinton's S.C. campaign. "This is the beginning. This is only one state."
The Clinton campaign said it would bring in 200 to 300 additional volunteers next week. The campaign also touts its strong national polling and strength in states voting on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Likewise, Edwards' campaign said Obama does not have a monopoly on young voters.
"That's yet to be seen," said Teresa Wells, S.C. spokeswoman for Edwards, a Seneca native who won the state's Democratic primary in 2004. "They are part of a kind of change that John Edwards is fighting for."
Iowa's Republican primary also sends a message about party leadership -- evangelical Christians can carry the day.
Huckabee's win complicates the Republican race, the experts said.
The former Arkansas governor is unlikely to win Tuesday in New Hampshire or Jan. 15 in Michigan, but could build a winner in Florida, which holds its primary Jan. 29.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the onetime Iowa favorite, could win New Hampshire and South Carolina. So, too, could U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee also could gain steam or pick up the support of a collapsed campaign. And lurking, and waiting on Florida and other later-voting states, is former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
But Iowa's turnout bolsters Huckabee's prospects in South Carolina, where Republicans vote Jan. 19.
In Iowa, about 60 percent of Republican voters said they were evangelical. Nearly half voted for Huckabee.
Winning in South Carolina requires reaching evangelical voters, who could account for more than 30 percent of the GOP vote.
Huckabee has been criticized for his lack of foreign policy experience and for his support of tax increases while Arkansas governor.
However, Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard said the factions within the S.C. GOP -- fiscal conservatives, and defense and security hawks -- concerned most about those issues are unlikely to outvote Palmetto State evangelicals.
"The size of the social conservatives dwarfs the others," Woodard said. "Who in the Republican field are you going to say is weak on security? The same sort of stuff was said about Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton."
Huckabee's Iowa victory means S.C. values voters once hesitant to support Huckabee because they feared he could not win now can vote for the candidate most like them, a Southern evangelical.
"They're now free to vote for him," Furman's Vinson said, "without worrying if he can win."
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