Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucus battle among Republicans with Mitt Romney running second. Former Baptist minister Huckabee is known as a solid conservative candidate popular among evangelical Christian voters.

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama was the winner with John Edwards second and Hillary Clinton in a very close third.

Turnout for the caucuses was higher than predicted, nearly double the participants in the 2004 caucuses according to some reports.

Huckabee has taken the official win, with 34 percent of the tally.

Romney is reported in second at 25 percent with former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson in third at 13 percent.

John McCain trails closely in fourth at 13 percent, with Ron Paul a distant fifth.

Rudy Guiliani, who focused virtually no effort to compaign in Iowa, sits at sixth with 4 percent.

Huckabee had not been expected to walk away with the win in the competition against better known Republican rivals.

His strong win in the contest will undoubtedly lend him stronger national credibility in upcoming primaries.

“People really are more important than the purse,” Huckabee said in a speech to his supporters as his win was confirmed by tally numbers, “…what a great lesson for America to learn.”

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made his concession in the race after CNN, NBC and Fox News declared Huckabee as the winner in the Iowa caucuses, according to Bloomerg.com.

“Mike has a natural base here, he was able to call on that base,” said Romney, who led in Iowa polls until last month.

“I intend to keep on battling and make sure my message is heard loud and clear.”

When asked if he would continue his campaign after disappointing results in Iowa by CNN, Thompson stated he was “not going to talk about that.”

“We look forward to the results, and we will just have to see what the numbers look like,” he said. Thompson said he would consider “the rankings and percentages” and “what the financing looks like going forward.”

Among the Democrats, Barack Obama leads at 38 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting in, followed by Edwards at 30 percent and Clinton at 29 percent.

The remainder of the field, including Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich are far out of contention.

According to the Canadian Press, almost half of Democratic voters surveyed said their “candidate’s ability to change the country” was the most important factor in their decision.

Edwards and Clinton both spoke passionately after the results were declared of their continued dedication to winning the Democratic Presidential nomination.

“The status quo lost and change won,” Edwards told supporters in what seemed more like a victory speech than a concession. “And now we move on, we move on from Iowa to New Hampshire.”

“I know that we’re going to get up tomorrow and keep pushing as hard as we can to get the message out about what is at stake in this election,” Clinton said to a cheering crowd.

“Because we know that it is literally the future of our country.”

In a victory speech to his supporters, Obama called the night a “defining moment in history,” saying:

“You came together as Democrats, Republicans and independents to stand up and say that we are one nation, we are one people and our time for change has come.”

Former Presidential nominee Howard Dean, now chairman of the Democratic National Committee, emphasised on MSNBC that the true success for the Democratic party was the massive turnout of Democractic voters.

“The big news from the point of view of the chairman of the party is obviously not involved with a particular candidate,” he said. “[It] is that our turnout was enormous. We doubled the Republican turnout I think we’ll find at the end of the day.”

“No one can say with any amount of certainty just who is going to come out of tonight’s caucuses as winners and losers,” writes CBSNews.com senior political editor Vaughn Ververs.

The Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries on January 8th are largely held to be two of the most competitions in determining the future party nominee for presidential elections.

45 delegates for the Democratic National Convention and 37 to the Republican GOP convention were determined by the Iowa caucus results.

Ann Turner © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved