Interesting debate in comments about Noam's item on post-Iowa scenarios for Clinton, Obama and Edwards. Commenter liebeg contends that "people are overgeneralizing from the 2004 experience," when John Kerry's Iowa win instantly rocketed him from hoplessness to victory in New Hampshire.
Here's an argument for why that may be true. Recall that Kerry didn't just unexpectedly beat Howard Dean in Iowa. Something else happened: Dean screamed. Dean's Iowa concession speech turned into one of the greatest political fiascos in a generation, winning him days of coverage that made him look like an unhinged freak. I have zero interest in re-opening the debate about whether The Scream was a media fabrication, but the fact remains that it wound up defining Dean to disastrous effect.
I'm not quite willing to argue that without The Scream Dean could've come back to beat Kerry. But it's still worth remembering the context of Kerry's post-Iowa romp before simply assuming this season's Iowa winner will repeat it.
[Idea partially stolen from NBC's Chuck Todd, whom I recently heard discussing Dean's '04 collapse on the radio.]