Senator John Kerry has won the first of a series of votes to choose a candidate to challenge George W Bush in the US presidential election in November.
Senator Kerry beat Senator John Edwards into second place in the vote by Democrat supporters in Iowa, with the early favourite Howard Dean coming third.
Congressman Dick Gephardt was fourth and dropped out of the campaign.
Can Senator Kerry now go on to win the Democratic nomination for presidential candidate? Send us your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
John Kerry is not the right man for the job. He voted for the war, patriot act. No child left behind and then had the audacity to no-show for the Medicare vote. Easier to sit on the fence then ruffle any feathers which might hurt his campaign. He is a phoney and he is mean. We already have that in the White House. The only man capable of changing Washington is Howard Dean. Honest, straight forward and willing to do what is right, not popular.
Mark Smith, Ellsworth, USA
Many of us Americans are equally tired and frustrated with both parties. They both do nothing to help the average American, only themselves and their selfish agenda. America truly needs a multi-party system, for the extremist on both the left and right have hijacked the old parties.
Nathanial, KY, USA
It must be someone who can defeat Bush. And on this it's a toss-up between Edwards and Clark. Edwards' big plus is that he's from the South and understands the little guy; his weakness is lack of foreign policy experience. Clark's got all the military experience but no experience in public life. But the real issue is: who can stand up to the blistering, nasty attacks from the right? It will be ugly.
Barbara Kautz, Tiburon, CA, USA
No democrat has one the presidency in the last 44 years without winning at least five southern states, so Edwards is really the only candidate who can dethrone Bush. Also, the Bush campaign didn't sabotage the Dean campaign, because they would love to see him get the nomination, since they think they could beat him handily in the general election.
Laurel, IL, USA
Kerry has lots of experience in internal matters in this nation. Unfortunately, that was one of the things that put us in this mess in the first place. Clark represents something new and aggressive for the Democratic Party and poses the worst threat to Bush and business-as-usual in the United States. I'm for Clark.
Mike Higgins, Clearwater Fl USA
I feel sorry for all the people wasting there time on all these presidential candidates. When the right man for the job is already in office and will be for four more years.
The candidate who will be able to get Mr. Bush out of the White House may have won but it saddens me that Rep. Kucinich didn't show strong enough to bring the Democratic Party back to being a party of progressive ideas. Until the party grows a spine instead of angling to win an election they will always be pandering to the Republicans. My only hope is for the Green Party to continue to grow stronger because I no longer can believe in Democrats.
Mike Stovall, Jacksonville, FL. USA
Does it matter as long as Bush leaves?
David Fuccillo, NYC, USA
Simply because one state has voiced its opinion doesn't mean that the decision is finalized. I should remind all that Iowa is part of the Mid-West, which is not exactly a hotbed of liberalism. I think that a state which is more obviously democratic should be the first to determine the primaries. That said, I have to agree with David of NYC...who cares as long as Bush goes.
Adrienne Cobb, Originally Los Angels, CA
It's still up in the air who will win the nomination. But I think that John Kerry will run a better campaign than Howard Dean. I think a Kerry/ Edwards team would be quite formidable. As a side note, I think it's a shame that only Kucinich and Sharpton are supporting a free national health care system.
Brad, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
Sadly, none of the Democrats fielded will beat Bush. When the Republican money machine begins to churn, be prepared for a Mondale/Regan size landslide victory for the Republicans.
David, Chicago, IL
John Kerry may not be able to win the South, but no Democrat is going to win that Bush-mad region anyway. What matters is that the Democratic candidate wins the populous states of California, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida (the majority of which is not culturally Southern) and the crucial swing states of Wisconsin, Oregon, and New Mexico, which could go either way in the election. Senator Kerry can win these states, along with sure victories in New England; and if he does, all of the Republican votes from Georgia to Idaho won't be enough to beat him.
Matt Simon, Boston, MA
It's still premature to predict a winner of the Democratic nomination. But it appears that Sen. Kerry will have strong support from US military veterans, such as myself, who resent the Bush administration's claims to be the exclusive interpreter of who is patriotic and who is not.
Jim Hopewell, USA
I was surprised to see Kerry's name on the top. I have been hopeful of someone with good strong unwavering opinions, and my only fear is he is just another republican in a democratic suit. Regardless, and I think most people would agree, here in the States, whoever wins, we will all lean in support. Bush installed himself in office, and now the people's vote will take him out.
April Oates, Athens, OH, USA
There is an old adage in America that says that money is the mother's milk of politics. If so, Dean will likely win the nomination for Democratic candidate for president since he has by far the most money. But there is another saying that has it that Americans vote with their pocketbooks and if the economic recovery makes the majority of Americans feel prosperous around election time, George Bush will have no trouble winning re-election.
John Kerry, with his gravitas and good sense, is clearly Presidential material. Wesley Clark also has the right stuff, but lacks political experience. I doubt his military credentials are enough for him to gain the nomination. The other candidates appear too peripheral for such a significant role. That said Bush will likely be re-elected. He has been successful and determined, even if controversial. In America, an election is usually the incumbents to lose, not the contenders to win. Bush doesn't look set to pull a Jimmy (Carter) in 2004.
Thor Thorgeirsson, Reykjavik, Iceland
Kerry is a Vietnam veteran. Bush is not. Kerry has a senate career. Clark has not. Kerry is the best chance to beat Bush. And it matters to the rest of the world - hugely.
Leo, London, UK
Wesley Clark, who skipped Iowa, is the only candidate who can seriously replace Bush. He not only knows the truth behind the Bush administration lies and horrendous war games, he speaks softly whilst carrying a big stick.
Stacy Rickard, Los Angeles USA
Iowans are a down to earth, honest people who can be trusted to have a strong intuitive sense of the candidates as human beings. Pay attention! They are telling you something.
Laurie MacGregor, Caracas, Venezuela
Kerry may well win the Democratic nomination because the party establishment simply does not like Howard Dean. To win in November will require someone like Kerry or Clark, because, otherwise, the Republicans will attempt to question the patriotism of the Democratic nominee. The campaign and election should be very interesting this year. Bush is betting that most members of the American electorate are idiots. I fear he is correct on this issue.
Lee, Volcano, Hawaii, U.S.A.
I think it makes no difference who will win the Democratic Nomination as I think Bush can easily beat any candidate. However I disagree with this concept that Iowans voted for Kerry because he's apparently more conservative than Dean. He's a Vietnam War protester with a leftist past and has an unproven record. Whereas Dean has been a Governor of a state for over 10 years and has shown fiscal restraint in this time. I don't think Kerry and Edwards are more likely to beat Bush than Dean.
Estifanos Zeray, Mitcham, Surrey
I'm not American, but this vote is too important not to have an opinion about. From where I stand, Dean's passionate and progressive voice makes him the most attractive candidate for President. He's a man who can inspire people. But whether Dean, Kerry or someone else wins the nomination, one thing is for sure: Bush is taking all of us in a dangerous direction and he must go. I hope Americans will choose a new leader to restore a once-great country's standing in the world.
Charlie, Tokyo, Japan
The best democrat candidate is Gen. Clark.
Agron, Pristina, Kosovo
While I gave the better part of a week's pay to the Gephardt campaign, I was glad to see Iowa's voters reject his negative advertisements and Dean's pompous attitude and attacks. With Gephardt out, Kerry is probably the only candidate who can beat Bush. Clark and Dean have already made far too many amateurish mistakes. Why do people think that Edwards could carry the south when Gore (another southerner) didn't carry one southern state? Forget the south.
Mort, Detroit, US
If Senator Kerry and his team work hard at promising the most likely voters what they want to hear about the issues that are most important to them and the nation as a whole, then I see no reason why he shouldn't win. As unlikely candidates drop out, his chances of becoming the top winner will greatly increase. More and more, people believe in him and what he stands for. Go Democrats, GO!!!
P. Warsaw, CA-USA
I am a Dean supporter but will support Kerry if he becomes the presidential representative for the Democratic Party. I fear though that with the recent capture of Saddam Hussein, many here in the US have forgotten about the Patriot Act I and II and don't feel the need for such strong anti-Bush campaigning as Dean represents. If this happens it could mean the end for the Democrat's presidential hopes.
CD, Rhinebeck, NY
I don't understand the outcome. I followed a lot of US news channels this week, interested as I am in the opinions of all the candidates and how they present themselves, and all the polls I saw showed Dean as a clear favourite and indicated a solid win. Either the polls were fake, or this result is fake, because Dean is way off now. Or the polls were not held among the few people who visited last night's voting, which seems the most probable option.
Debby Landsome, Florida, US
Dean was too violent; I think he is out of the race. Even in the USA, people favour a more elegant approach and it would appear Kerry has what it takes to take on a very popular sitting president.
Simon, Plano, Texas
I have noticed that the overwhelming majority of comments on this page are anti-Bush. The reality is quite different. Bush will be very difficult to beat. Dean and Kerry have no chance because they can't win the South. But Edwards' surprise finish may keep the Republicans up at night for a while. He is the biggest threat because he has the potential to undercut Bush in the South.
Scott, Phoenix, USA
To Scott, Phoenix: The board is mostly anti-Bush because he has been a bad president. Much of the world fears the USA instead of looking up to us for support/aid/cooperation/leadership. Everyone knows Iraq is a fraudulent war, and it show on this board. Go Kerry!
Matthew, Wilmington, Ohio, USA
It's too early to write Dean off, Remember neither Clinton nor Bush won in Iowa but both went on to win their party nomination and become President. Dean need to do his home work well to bounce back in New-Hampshire...good luck to Dean.
Karl Mourfy, Berkeley U.S
Kerry does have the backbone to break Bush, but that doesn't make him the best candidate. I would say he is equally competent as Dean, but both of them are on the same level as Gore, which is not very impressive. Clark seems the best available guy around to me to really tackle this country's problems and beat Bush. And if the media wasn't so focussed and biased to the fake-polls (once again the pre-polls showed that they are not representing the views) he would already have been doing better.
D. Kershaw, Arizona
I believe that the correct candidate won in Iowa, simply because he received the most votes of party activists in a swing state. Without the party activists in these swing states, the party's candidate will do poorly in the general election.
Warren Eckels, Schererville, Indiana, USA
John Kerry can win if he continues to play his military service up as much as he possibly can. And as for not being from the south, the south has had a stranglehold on the administration of the United States for far too long, its just not healthy.
Ian, St. Paul, USA
I attended the caucus tonight and was astonished by the results. We all expected Dean to win handily. Did Kerry win? No, the incompetent US media were the real winners. A recent study showed that only 49% of mainstream media coverage of Dean was positive or neutral, but for all the other candidates, the figure was 89%. Reporters blindly repeat outrageous opinions fed to them by Karl Rove and the other Bush thugs, and then all the other "journalists" repeat them as facts. This will be the dirtiest campaign in American history, and the media will act as town crier for Republican slander and lies.
Howard, Cedar Falls, Iowa
I think Kerry is a very lacklustre candidate; he is very bland and has spent all his time virulently attacking Dean, only boosting the image of the Democratic Party as being deeply factionalized. Another four years of Bush will be a disaster of mythic proportions for this country and for the world. In my mind, the candidate with the best chance to defeat Bush is Clark, just as liberal and idealistic as Dean yet, will be much more appealing to the general public.
Caleb, Los Angeles, US
I do not know about the 'right' candidate, but a right president was certainly not elected (in whatever sense he was elected) in the last elections - but then it is 'democracy' that is being used as an excuse to dominate everything and everybody.
Kerry has improved as a campaigner, and he should have adequate funds to fight for as long as it takes. Momentum or, more precisely, the perception of possessing momentum, is what is key. The race is now wide open. It is important for a candidate to do "better than expected" in each of the early contests. The departure of Gephardt probably helps Kerry. The sudden rise of John Edwards in the polls probably will derail Gen. Clark's strategy of being the most viable candidate in the South.
David, Milwaukee, WI, USA
I have watched in-depth town hall type meetings on TV with each of the candidates. It was after hearing their responses to questions asked by citizens that I was able to settle on a choice among the five. I was much impressed by Edwards, but I think Kerry better articulated the issues and presented them in a broader context which included American values. He was able to inspire as well.
Anita, St. Louis, MO
Yes, I think Kerry can win, but John Edwards appears to be a more charismatic candidate & most importantly, a southerner. It's really irrelevant who comes out on top as any would be a vast improvement for the U.S & the world. The issue for all the candidates is, who can beat Bush? Dean has done a great job setting the agenda and motivating the electorate. He may not be electable, but he is doing a wonderful job getting everyone's attention, raising issues, and attacking the current regime. Hopefully, all the candidates can keep their eye on the ball and not destroy each other before the real fight begins.
Michael Miles, Minneapolis, USA
Thank God, Kerry carried Iowa. I love all the democratic candidates, compared to Bush, but electability is key. Clark and Kerry have the best chances of beating Bush.
JD Sitter, Texas, USA
John Kerry unites the Vietnam generation, both those who fought it and those who opposed it, as he did both. The bulk of his vote in Iowa came from that generation and that will translate nationally. His record as a decorated war hero may be a key to calming American fears about replacing a President in a time of war.
A. Kyle, Kansas City
Kerry's win was a small surprise, but not a great one. Dean's pilgrimage to pay homage to Jimmy Carter, our least effective president of the 20th century, may have been the kiss of death for his Iowa campaign. So he wants to be a failure like Carter?
James Castro, Helena, Montana, USA
There is no outstanding option for the Democrats this time, so anyone who can get Bush out is ok by me. Let's pray Kerry can
Adam, Phoenix, USA
That is not what I call a vote representing the opinion of the people in a state. Does anybody actually have any idea how many people in Iowa visited these local election' at these 2000 cities, villages and other locations in Iowa? I guarantee you the amount of attending voting people are not even 0.0001% of the total people living in Iowa. This has nothing to do with politics and democracy. It's like a party for a certain kind of sport, that only attracts people interested in that sport.
Pamela Cartering, Boston, US
Senator Kerry is not only a beautiful presidential candidate but also a good candidate who can help bring peace around the world. I believe that Senator Kerry could be a wonder Democratic nominee for President and he is electable.
William Bombo, Minnesota, USA
Pre-elections. What does it matter? In a media-cracy instead of democracy the TV decides who wins in the end, and even if you win you are still not certain you can enter the White House, ask Al Gore.
Sjors Buch, Belgium
Yes, because I believe that Democrats have finally realized that to defeat President George W. Bush in November they need a candidate that America can trust on defence and security issues. Senator Kerry is the most credible candidate on those issues. Howard Dean is simply too liberal even for a liberal democrat like myself.
J. Adimora, Dallas, USA
Senator Kerry, along with every other Democratic candidate, still needs to demonstrate his ability to compete in the southern states.
It's worth noting that John F. Kennedy has been the only democrat elected to the White House from outside the south since the end of World War II. That's why my money is on one of the two southerners, Gen. Wesley Clark from Arkansas or Senator John Edwards from North Carolina, this time around.
Ron Barber, Arlington, VA
I don't mean to sound superficial, but that hair just bothers me so much! I don't know if I could vote for a man whose hair wouldn't move in hurricane gust winds.
John Jennings, Houston, US
This is truly a surprise and if this election is any indicator, one can truly not predict something so far down the road as the democratic presidential nomination. Although Kerry and Edwards were rising stocks as of late, a couple of weeks ago I would never have thought that either one of them had a chance. One must wait and see the results of a couple more states before any initial assumptions can be made. Perhaps Dean will surge once again, or maybe Clark will prove to be too powerful. The simple answer is that nobody knows!
Pako Major, Milwaukee, USA
Hey, it keeps things interesting!
S.J., Los Angeles, CA
Iowa results? Meaningless! The Democratic Convention is all that matters.
Michael Payne, Hong Kong, China
A man with "on-air hair" and not much else won Iowa. He has the same old tired tax and spend ideas that is typical for a rich guy from the liberal New England. He should run for office in Canada, where they like high taxes and a long wait for medical care.
P Wangstrom, Anchorage, Alaska
As much as I admire Dean for his strong anti-war stance, as a senator, he's a loose cannon with an angry message. It's doubtful he'd do well in a national election. I hope if things turn rapidly south for his campaign, he'll have the good sense to give his support and war chest up graciously, in the name of getting that awful tyrant out of the White House.
Carter Adams, Athens, GA, USA
Howard Dean has clearly come out as the strongest, most confident candidate. He has what some see as anger, but I see it as determination. It is time we take our country back from those currently sitting in the White House. If the US has another four years of Bush, the world will suffer greatly. Dean is the only one with the will power and passion to beat Bush.
Matt Alland, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
I just got up and saw the news. I almost fell down again. Kerry? Come on, is this a joke? I mean, I know every Democrat including Liebermann can beat Bush in November, but is this the best the US can offer? Dennis Kucinich and Sharpton seem to be the only guys with a good solid program, but unfortunately they don't get any attention and don't seem to have the personality so far because of this lack of attention. I would go for Clark. Dean is too arrogant, Kerry can only bash Bush but has no constructive vision and Edwards is like a student boy that doesn't even belong there, lightweight.
Ben Hansson, London
He can go on to win it, so can Edwards, Clark and Dean though. There are still 49 more states to go and all of them still need over 2100 more delegates to get the nomination. Kerry only has 17, Edwards 15 and Dean six. This means we are a long way off. I still believe Edwards is the best candidate not only for the U.S. but a world with a lot of division right now, and he will win it. However it is still a long way to go.
Steven, Stony Point N.C. United States
Remember, Al Gore could still enter the race with Hillary Clinton as his vice president, albeit right now I would still vote for Wes Clark.
Mark, Fremont, OH, USA
Apparently the people of Iowa decided that Kerry was more electable than Dean. Foolish! Four of the last five presidents have been Governors like Dean, and only one president in the last 100 plus years has come from the Senate like Kerry. But all that is irrelevant I suppose, because old G.W. Bush, former Governor, will stampede any of them.
Dan Murray, Boston, USA
Iowa represents one percent of the US population. People should not get too ahead of themselves here.
Kevin, Mammoth Lakes, CA, USA
It's far too early to say. Iowa is just Iowa, every election the Iowa primary receives unjustifiable amounts of hype and media speculation, far too prematurely made. No one cares who was leading at mile one of a marathon, Kerry won Iowa, that's mile one. Only the race winner is the one who gets the prize.
Stephen, San Jose, CA, USA
The right candidate indeed won at Iowa! Kerry is a great man, a Vietnam hero, who can easily go against our cowboy president, who dodged the military draft! Kerry can also heal the wound between US and its traditional allies, Old Europe! Governor Dean is a good man but can not possibly beat Bush. Kerry is the man for the educated segment of America!
Koz Khosravani, L.A., California
Lets give every thing time
Cyprian, Seattle, USA
The press overseas appear to be taking US stories and giving them far more prominence than they deserve internationally, perhaps just because the news 'feeds' are available. We are in danger of falling into the same trap as the US media, of treating the Presidential race as a celebrity version of 'Survivor'. We all know that the Democrat candidate selected to beat Bush at the polls will not necessarily be the one who would make the best US president. Lieberman appears most likely to be an able president - but he's too unlike a celebrity to appear on the popular radar.
Keith, Canberra, Australia