The last time both parties had presidential candidates who were neither incumbents nor sitting vice presidents was 1952. This year's race is starting to look a lot like that in two ways.
In 1952, voters looked back at 20 years of New Deal and Fair Deal politics - and decided to make a change. Now, voters are looking back at 20 years of Bush or Clinton administrations. Most Iowa Democrats didn't want to replay those battles. Most Iowa Republicans wanted candidates not only decent but articulate.
In 1952, Democrats went for the candidate who appealed to their better natures, Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. Iowa Democrats last night chose the candidate who said he would end partisan sniping, Barack Obama. On the GOP side, Mike Huckabee had a great night, but the biggest beneficiary of Mitt Romney's failure is war hero John McCain, poised like Dwight Eisenhower to pick up support from those most concerned about winning a six-year-old cold war with a hot spot: Korea then, Iraq now.
One big difference: evangelical politics as such did not exist in 1952. The New York Times and other press pulpits were declaring throughout 2007 that the evangelical moment was gone. Not so fast.