The Big Election: Who Knew?

For months, people have been waxing blue sky and screaming like Chicken Little about whether Iraq could pull off an election. At this early stage, who seems to have hit the mark?

“The bottom line here is the U.N. had always thought that it might take something like eight months to get elections ready. And according to my math, there are not eight months between September and January.”
— Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Sept. 20, 2004

“Elections will occur in Iraq on time in January.”
— Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, Sept. 23, 2004

“The United States and the Iraqis have retreated from whole areas of Iraq.... There are no-go zones in Iraq today. You can’t hold an election in a no-go zone.”
— Sen. John Kerry, Sept. 23, 2004

“I hope for a democracy. I think the odds are very long against it.”
— Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Oct. 2, 2004

“The Iraq elections are going to be a surprising success.”
— Blogger Andrew Sullivan, Dec. 19, 2004

“The elections are going to be much messier [than in the West Bank and Gaza].”
— Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-Del.), Jan. 9

“They will not be free, fair and credible elections by any standard.”
— Hrair Balian, former head of democracy efforts for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Jan. 15

“I think elections will be such an incredibly hopeful experience for the Iraqi people.”
— President Bush, Jan. 16

“Violence will not stop this election.”
— Carlos Valenzuela, the U.N.'s top elections expert in Iraq, Jan. 21

“There will be a good turnout in the north and in the south; and as far as the central part of the country, there are a couple of provinces which are problematic.”
— U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John D. Negroponte, Jan. 23

“As low as the bar is, the election could still prove to be a disappointing farce.”
— Los Angeles Times, Jan. 26 editorial

“Anyone who votes will be beheaded.”
— Graffiti on a polling place in Mosul, Jan. 29