"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

Iowa is over, and the presidential contest has been wrenched. As was likely, candidates have dropped out in the last 24 hours – Republican Mike Huckabee, Democrat Martin O’Malley – and others have seen their positioned improved or weakened.

On the Republican side, the crush had to come among the Donald Trump crowd. Trump’s underperformance compared to his polling not only blew his “winner” balloon – the New York Daily News ran a huyge headline with his pictured, tagged “Loser” – but also raises the question of how much his polling may be inflated elsewhere. Odds are that it probably has been to some extent, and pollsters may be trying to find ways to correct. But besides that the form of the contest in Iowa, public caucuses where you had to commit an evening to the process, may be less suitable to disaffected Trumpers than a simple ballot, as in New Hampshire. We’ll get a read on that next week, in a place where Trump still leads strongly in the polls.

The happy faces were those around Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of whom exceeded expectations. The pressure will be on for other “establishment” candidates like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie to drop out quickly in favor of Rubio; Rubio is dependent on that to make gains. But Cruz also may have room to grow, from the remaining Ben Carson contingent (still close to 10% in Iowa), from the remnants of the Huckabee troops and possibly from a deflated Trump crowd. Not that Trump should be written off yet. Second place may have failed to hit expectations, but it’s still an indicator of substantial strength.

The Democrats had a tie. That’s the only reasonable thing to call it, since the race was so very close and some local decisions were settled by coin flips. In most places around the country, a public election this close would be subject to an automatic recount. (Not to mention the fact that actual numbers of voters supporting the candidates were not released.) Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders can claim some bragging rights.

And for all, it’s off to the Granite State. – rs (photo/Tony Fischer)

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First Take

In a few hours (as this is written), the 2016 campaign for the presidency moves for into a decisively new phase, the first such change since the major candidates finished entering the race around the middle of last year.

As some analyses have put it, up to this point, “anything can happen” – meaning that candidates can rise and fall and shift around because of many factors, some of them within their campaigns’ control. Beginning tonight, that changes. Each new round of voting, starting with the Iowa caucuses tonight, will increasingly constrain what will happen, limit the possibilities.

After tonight, you may see candidates dropping out. After New Hampshire, in a few more days, you may see more. After the next rounds in South Carolina and Nevada, the field likely will be down to the final batch of contestants.

And we’ll get some answers. How real is Trump’s support? (It could be over-estimated by the polls, or underestimated – you can find evidence both ways.) How about Sanders? How solid are the ground organizations of Clinton or Cruz? Is there a hidden well of support for someone that hasn’t been apparent up to now?

The rounds of diminishing possibilities begins tonight. It doesn’t end there. But this is the point when the theoretical and potential hits the road of reality. –rs

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First Take

From the FBI: “This is the complete video footage of a joint FBI and Oregon State Police traffic stop and OSP officer-involved shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. This footage, which has only been edited to blur out aircraft information, was taken by the FBI on 01/26/2016 and released by the FBI on 01/28/2016.”

The Finicum incident comes at around the 9:20 mark. The drone bearing the camera was quite a distance away, and the images were not utterly clear. But it does look as if he was reaching for something – as if he were reaching for a weapon – when he was shot, which is what the law enforcement account report. And we do know these people have spent a great deal of time talking about rigorously they pack heat.

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First Take