Based on the Iowa results, there is an extraordinary negative correlation between years of federal elected experience and support. Look back at the candidates service in either elected or appointed federal office compared to their results in Iowa, and the pattern is clear.
In reverse order of Federal service (for these purposes I am excluding staff jobs such as the Counsel role Hillary Clinton held on the Watergate committee. I am also excluding third-tier candidates like Gravel and Kucinich who are not in serious contention for the nomination).
Joseph Biden: Biden has served as a U.S. Senator since 1973, and therefore has 35 years of Congressional service. Biden won 23 state delegates and dropped out of the race.
Chris Dodd: Dodd was first elected to the House in 1974 and has served in either the House or Senate continuously since his inauguration in 1975 -- 33 years of Congressional service. Dodd received just 1 state delegate and has dropped out of the race.
Bill Richardson: Began service in the House in 1983; appointed UN Ambassador in 1997 and Energy secretary from 1998-2001. 18 years of federal service. Richardson received 53 state delegates, about 2%.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Became first lady in 1993. Began service in the Senate in 2001. 8 years of experience as first lady and 7 years of federal elective office. (I'm not making a judgment on whether experience as first lady is comparable to service in a policymaking office). Clinton won 737 state delegates, or 29%.
John Edwards: Served one full term as U.S. Senator. 6 years experience in federal office. Received 744 state delegates or 30%.
Barack Obama: Has served 3 years of his first term as a U.S. Senator. Received 940 state delegates or 38%.
Of course, the correlation is not perfect -- the number of delegates is not exactly in proportion to the number of years of federal service -- but it is clear that a long resume in federal service was not an asset in Iowa. It's late to try to create a new dynamic -- and indeed, the experience and "ready from day one" rhetoric has been a primary selling point for Biden, Dodd, Richardson and Clinton. Clearly Iowa is just one small state, and the discussion can change -- but the compressed schedule only exaggerates the importance of Iowa and New Hampshire in shaping the race from here on. Clinton has today and tomorrow to convince people that experience is critical, and that Obama's lack of experience is dangerous. So far, it appears that she has not been successful.