It was a stunning defeat for Clinton, who is back on more familiar turf in New Hampshire this morning. As much as she talked up how much fun it was to get to know Iowa, she never really felt at home among the cornfields.
New Hampshire is more Clinton's style. She and Bill have old friends here. They know their way around its winding roads and quaint colonial towns.
The New York senator lands in New Hampshire with a weight on her shoulders. Will she be able to persuade voters here to do what Iowans did not? Will another loss in New Hampshire be fatal for her campaign? Or can they — as campaign officials continue to insist — win the nomination without the help of Iowa or New Hampshire if it comes down to that?
Trying to put a positive face on what was clearly not a good night, Clinton addressed supporters in a ballroom of the Fort Des Moines hotel Thursday night. As she entered, flanked by her husband and daughter, the crowd broke into a chant of "Hillary Hillary!"
"We're gonna take this enthusiasm and go right to New Hampshire!" Clinton yelled.
But just moments before Clinton's arrival, those supporters had been outside at the open bar, watching somberly as Barack Obama was projected the winner on big screen televisions. They nursed drinks and frowned.
Clinton tried to frame her loss in Iowa as a turning point for Democrats.
"This is a great night for Democrats," she said. "We have seen unprecedented turnout here in Iowa and that is good news because today we are sending a clear message that we are going to have change. And that change will be a Democratic president in the White House in 2009."
Democrats New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd tallied in single digits and both are expected to pull out of the race.
ABC's Jake Tapper, Kate Snow and Gary Langer contributed to this story.