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Friday, December 28, 2007

Latest Iowa Poll

Iowa Caucus Analysis, Friday, December 28th
(Note: I refuse to talk at length about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and its effects on the presidential primaries, as many have done in the last 24 hours. I was a huge admirer of hers, and her death is just a little too fresh to talk about American political ramifications. In one sentence, the ramifications on the Democratic primary will be negligible, while McCain and Giuliani could get a small boost for the Republicans. The general election, however, is a different story for a different time. We'll get to the role of Pakistan, India, Islamic terror, nuclear arsenals, and Al Qaeda in a few months. Trust me, I have a lot to say. On with the show.)

The Iowa poll of the day, from New Strategic Vision, taken over the last two days.

Obama 30 (no change vs last poll Dec 16-18)
Clinton 29 (+2)
Edwards 28 (+1)
Biden 5 (nc)
Richardson 2 (-1)
Dodd 1 (nc)
Kucinich 1 (nc)
Undecided 4 (-2)

The poll is representative of most Iowa polls these days. Obama, Clinton, and Edwards are bunched up within the margin of error, while all the other candidates are far back. These standings are becoming further solidified with each passing week. In this poll, for example, no numbers have fluctuated beyond a couple percentage points. What has transformed over time, however, is by how much the big three are leading. They continue to separate from the pack. Fourth place has fallen all the way back to 5%, while fifth place is at a miniscule 2!

What this tells us is that the top three will not fluctuate much in the Iowa Caucus, even after the first round of voting. There are not many undecideds to win, nor will there be many second choices to seduce because nearly 90% have decided on one of the top three. Basically, we are flying towards a finish that looks something like:

Obama - 33
Edwards - 32
Clinton - 30

with some diehard Kucinichites and Doddheads holding strong onto their candidate despite their lack of viability.

So the question I am forced to ask is how the national media would cover such a finish. Is a Clinton 3rd place finish like the one above really that much of a loss? She would only be out of first by three percentage points. In a state that has 57 delegates up for grabs, which go into the eventual pool of 3,515, the above scenario would mean Obama gets 19 delegates, Edwards gets 18, and Clinton gets 17. There would only be a two delegate difference between Obama and Clinton, with 3,458 still up for grabs across the country. Yet I think we know how the media would play it up.

"Obama Wins! Hillary Back in 3rd Place!" This then give the momentum to Obama heading into New Hampshire. The responsibility, or lack thereof, of the media after the Iowa Caucus will play a direct role in the electing of our next President. That's a whole blog in itself. Maybe next week.

Huckabee 29 (-2 vs. last poll Dec 16-18)
Romney 27 (+2)
Thompson 15 (-1)
McCain 14 (+6)
Giuliani 4 (-2)
Paul 4 (-1)
Undecided 6 (nc)

Has Huckabee peaked too early? A Romney victory is now better than ever for the former Massachusetts governor. If Romney comes back to win the state after being down for most of December, it would be much more meaningful to Republicans than if he had outspent the field and won going away. Before, all Romney could have hoped for was an "as expected." Once expectations were lowered, however, it was possible to beat them, thus earning even more momentum in New Hampshire. A Huckabee second place finish, meanwhile, would be disappointing after being in first by so much, and might end his viability, with New Hampshire and South Carolina probably going to other candidates.

It's also notable that McCain had a 6 point pop, and since he's spending time in Iowa this week, he could be looking at a 3rd place finish, which is a nice moral victory for the McCain campaign. Such a better-than-expected showing could translate into a New Hampshire win, and possibly status as the frontrunner.

That happened pretty fast, didn't it?

Next week is going to be fascinating to follow. I hope to see you all back here for the final push.

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