In an excting night in American politics, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee have won the first votes in the race to choose the country’s Presidential candidates.

Obama, the first African-American to stand a serious chance of winning nomination by a major party, romped home in a rural state that is 95% white.

His victory in the Iowa Democratic caucus over former First Lady Hillary Clinton and former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards has transformed the race for the White House.

Meanwhile Mike Huckabee, a virtual unknown a few months ago, beat Mormon candidate Mitt Romney to win the support of Iowan Republicans.

All eyes now turn to the New Hampshire primary next week. Obama is hoping that today’s victory will propel him into winning that state and many others.

There was a high turnout despite the freezing weather, and the support of young people was vital in Obama’s victory.

Initial reports suggest that turnout at the Democratic caucus meetings were twice as high as in 2004 and most of that is thought to be down to Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith may have hurt his chances with the substantial conservative Christian constituency that make up a considerable proportion of the Republican base in Iowa.