The votes tallied and the shouting done, most of the candidates, campaign aides and media who had invaded Iowa marched on to New Hampshire on Tuesday — but not before Hawkeye State voters reshaped the Democratic field.
A big win in Monday's caucus by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, and a remarkable second-place finish by Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, changed the landscape of the race for the nomination.
The frontrunner status of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, well behind in third place, was put in doubt. The campaign and career of Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt — a distant fourth — were apparently ended.
It was a startling turnaround, and raised the prospect of a protracted nomination fight instead of the crisp contest that was intended when Democrats front-loaded their primary race calendar.
With 98 percent of Iowa precincts reporting, Kerry had 38 percent, Edwards 32 percent, Dean 18 percent and Gephardt 11 percent. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio was at 1 percent.
Wesley Clark, Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rev. Al Sharpton have strategies that skipped Iowa; Carol-Moseley Braun endorsed Dean last week when she dropped out of the race.
An AP analysis showed Kerry with 20 delegates from the state, followed by Edwards with 18 and Dean with seven.
But the fight was much less about delegates than about expectations and momentum for the battles to come. For Gephardt, it appeared the battles were over.
"My campaign to fight for working people may be ending tonight, but our fight will never end," Gephardt said before heading back to St. Louis to drop out of the race on Tuesday. He is serving his 14th and last term in Congress.
On Tuesday, the race swung to New Hampshire and the nation's first presidential primary in a week's time.
Kerry opened his sprint in the Granite State with a morning rally in Manchester, ticking off to his supporters his experience in foreign policy and domestic issues, and the reasons for his candidacy.
He said he wants "to guarantee that we stop being the only industrial nation on the face of this planet, and the richest one at that, not to understand that it is not a privilege of the powerful and the wealthy but that health care is a right of all Americans."
"I'm going to fight for every vote in New Hampshire the same way I did in Iowa," Kerry told the CBS News Early Show.
Kerry began his campaign as a presumed favorite, but he struggled to find his footing and sell his this-but-that positions to Democrats wowed by Dean's certitudes.
Until the final days of the Iowa campaign, Dean had dominated the national contest with his blistering rhetoric against the Iraq war and President Bush's tax cuts, his money-raising prowess and his wildfire-paced, Internet-powered insurgency against Washington.
Ultimately, however, Iowans backed a candidate who voted in favor of Mr. Bush's decision to go to war — but criticizes the president's prosecution of it.
The most decisive issues cited by caucus attendees were health care, at 28 percent, and the economy and jobs, at 29 percent, according to a caucus entrance poll of 1,660 attendees by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Among those citing health care, Kerry was the clear favorite, with 38 percent support.
Among voters citing the economy, Edwards and Kerry split support, receiving 33 percent and 34 percent respectively. While Dean won among voters who said Iraq was the most important issue in their vote, only 14 percent of caucus attendees cited the issue as top.
Dean did not abandon his fiery rhetoric Monday night. Pumping the air as if he'd won, Dean bellowed to supporters: "We will not quit now or ever," his voice hoarse, nearly a scream.
On Tuesday, Dean defended his theatrical exuberance on that stage, saying, "You've got to have some fun in this business."
"I'm determined to fight back and take this country away from the special interests and do something about investing in kids and investing in education, balancing the budget, Dean told the CBS News Early Show. "I would have loved to have been first or second. But if you asked me a year ago could we finish in the top three in Iowa, I would be really happy where we are."
Edwards was back on the ground in New Hampshire by 3:30 a.m. Once barely on the radar screen, he exulted in his changed fortunes.
"I think what we saw in the caucuses last night is an affirmation that people are looking for a president who can actually lift them up and make them hopeful," Edwards told the Early Show.
As the Iowa candidates headed east, Clark quickly set his sights on the new front-runner, Kerry.
"He's got military background, but nobody in this race has got the kind of background I've got," said Clark, a retired four-star Army general and one-time NATO supreme allied commander.
Lieberman said the wide-open race gives him a fresh shot. "We're now on to New Hampshire, and New Hampshire is a whole new ballgame," he said.
Kucinich said he would carry on his candidacy, a longshot all along.
Polls in New Hampshire show Dean still out front, but with a shrinking lead. Clark had been the main challenger, but Monday Kerry began to move up.
An American Research Group tracking poll had Dean with 28 percent, Kerry with 20 percent and Clark 19 percent, subject to a 4 percent margin of error. A WBZ/Boston Globe poll had Dean with 28 percent, Clark with 21 percent and Kerry with 20 percent. That survey has a 5-point margin of error.
Dean still leads the overall delegate race with 104 to Kerry's 75 and Edwards' 34. Nomination requires 2,162 delegates.