That's how many delegates were at stake in Iowa (56) and New Hampshire (22). But you wouldn't know that from the media's coverage. Kerry is being called the frontrunner, Dean is being written off as dead in the water, and much of the punditocracy is now focused on who will be the Vice President.

Is this what our democracy has come to, where two small states with less than 2% of the electorate have the power to determine the Democratic nominee? What's behind "the Big Mo" and how does the media feed the perception that Iowa and New Hampshire are valid indicators of the national electorate's sentiments?

Is it reasonable to conclude that the system works if 9 of the last 10 major party presidential nominees were winners of either the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary? Or does this fact say more about the disproportionate influence these two states have on national opinion.

And what about the media's coverage? Why has the significance of Iowa and New Hampshire been grossly exaggerated? What interest do they have in seeing a nominee chosen sooner, rather than later?

The pundits have given various explanations for why the sudden shifts in Iowa and New Hampshire away from Howard Dean, but they neglect one simple one. Most people are procrastinators -- they don't pay much attention or make up their minds until their vote is a week away. That's why the anti-Dean ads run by Gephardt and the Club for Growth had such an impact during the last week in Iowa, which in turn affected New Hampshire. And that's why Dean closed the gap in New Hampshire to 13% when it had been running higher than 20%.

New Hampshire's is an open primary, meaning Republicans could cast their lot in the Democratic Primary, potentially picking the candidate they would most like to face against their incumbent president. And who might that be?

Kerry and Dean received 65% of the votes cast yesterday in New Hampshire, leaving 35% to the rest of the field. there are a lot of votes up for grabs.

On a related note, if you're curious to see how your views match those of the candidates, take the "Vote by Issues Quiz" and find out for yourself.