Iowa: Three leaders (from both parties) in two polls

We get two new Iowa poll on this Thursday morning -- and the results are very much in line with what we are seeing: Huckabee has a modest but ssteady lead in the GOP race, and the Democratic race is very tight (and tightening).

First up, Strategic Vision and its now weekly poll:

  • Among Democrats, Barack Obama gets 30% with Edwards and Clinton tied at 27%.
  • Among Republicans, Huckabee gets 31% to Mitt Romney's 25%. ThompsonUpload File is at 16%, McCain at 8% and Giuliani only at 6%.
In last week's poll, Obama led 33-25 (a week before it was 32-25), so definitely some tightening here on the Democratic side. Needless to say it is impossible to deduce anything from an Iowa poll when three candidates are within 3 points. The only revealing thing is the trendline.

And next is a CNN poll:

  • Among Democrats, it's a dead heat here as well: Clinton has 30%, Obama has 28% and Edwards has 26%.
  • Among Republicans, it's Huckabee at 33% with Romney at 25% and Giuliani at 11%, followed by Thompson and McCain at 9%.
Two noteworthy things in these polls: (1) In the Republican race, Huckabee is holding steady though his lead is stable within the mid-single digits at this point. Romney and Thompson apparently managed to get him down from the 40% mark he was hitting two weeks ago. But can Romney now close that little gap that's left? Other polls this week suggested he might

(2) The Democratic race is more locked up than it's ever been. There was some evidence of an Obama surge two weeks ago -- and he was leading in most Iowa polls with sometimes big margins. Now, every poll has a different leader -- and the only lesson from three candidates within 3 or 4 points is that anything can happen on January 3rd. Actually, if numbers hold like this, Edwards could even be the favorite given that he is likely to get more second-choice supporters.

Yes indeed, the more the race looks deadlocked by January 3rd, the higher you should regard Edwards's chances.

Meanwhile, a new SUSA poll of South Carolina has Obama and Clinton tied up, with the latter leading 41-39, which is pretty much the same as the previous SUSA poll -- though Clinton used to have big leads here. But the big story: Obama confirms he has created a gap among black voters, now leading Clinton 57% to 37%.

Update: I am being asked in the comments whether there is any evidence that Edwards is still the best second-choice if we only take into account backers of those who are probably not going to be viable (Richardson, Biden, Dodd and Kucinich). The suggestion is that Clinton is likely to look stronger then, as Obama and Edwards probably choose the other as their second choice. That's something I had said myself two or three weeks ago as a possible reason for Clinton to be more optimistic. But since then there have been plenty of polls (for example two here) that suggest that Clinton lags in second-choice preferences even if we only ask backers of the second-tier candidates.

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  • "Actually, if numbers hold like this, Edwards could even be the favorite given that he is likely to get more second-choice supporters."

    Actually, the favorite second-choice varies almost as much from poll to poll as the first choice. Go back and take a look at the polls that ask about second choice votes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 20 December, 2007 12:29  

  • Also second choice numbers in these polls are a bit misleading as they include Edwards, Obama, and Clinton supporters second-choice selections. Has there been any poll out there asking second choice selections only of Biden, Dodd, and Richardson supporters? If so, I'd say look to those numbers to see where the pendulum may swing on Jan. 3

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 20 December, 2007 12:40  

  • Edwards will take Iowa! Obama has no experience--Obama voted "present"over 100 times, is it that hard to take a position? I am looking for a leader, not a "i am present-er" Hillary and giulianni can go flip flop together at the bottom of "poll" street

    By Anonymous the predictor, At 20 December, 2007 15:49  

  • O.K. predicter,
    I love all the Edwards people that say they won't vote for Obama based on experience but will vote for Edwards. Edwards had 1, yes 1 term in the Senate and hasn't been in elected office in 4 years. Why don't you give me a better reason than that to not support Obama. By the way I don't look at Edwards numbers as a surge. This guy basically lived in Iowa since 2004 and he's still coming in third?

    By Anonymous Dillon, At 20 December, 2007 16:27  

  • I think Obama will come in third in Iowa (which is really where he should finish). Hillary will probably struggle to beat Edwards. Don't be surprised if Joe Biden doesn't get 15%. Richardson has been a disappointment--never caught on fire like he should. He could be a candidate the base would support, and once his name gets out, would be very popular with the independents.

    By Anonymous Southern Slav, At 20 December, 2007 20:03  

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