LA Times and Strategic Vision poll IA, NH: Tight for Democrats, less so in GOP

LA Times has just released its latest numbers from Iowa and New Hampshire for both the Democratic and Republican race, and they underscore the importance of next week's vote. Now, the poll has been in the field from the 20th to the 23rd and then on the 26th, not the best time poll considering how quickly things change in the last week of a campaign and the shady nature of Christmas week-end polling. And we also just got the new numbers from Strategic Vision; its field dates are December 26-27th, so post-Christmas week-end which could make them slightly more reliable. With that disclaimer, let's go straight to the numbers:


  • In Iowa, Clinton comes in on top with 29% against 26% for Obama and 25% for Edwards.
  • But among the "most likely caucus-goers," numbers are sensibly different: 31% for Clinton, 25% for Edwards and 22% for Obama -- suggesting Barack's support could be weaker.
  • And in a sure sign that Clinton is winning the experience argument, 79% of Iowa Democrats say she is ready to be president; 43% say the same about Barack Obama. That could clearly pause problems for Obama in a general election.
  • In New Hampshire, however, Obama has dramatically improved his position, now leading 32% to 30%, with Edwards at 18%.

  • Strategic Vision only polls Iowa, and it has an even tighter race: Obama gets 30%, Clinton 29%, Edwards 28%. A week ago, Obama was three points up. Two weeks ago, it was an eight-point lead.
The Iowa race is virtually tied between the top-three candidate; but do notice that no one is talking of a Clinton Iowa free fall anymore. The period in which Obama consistently led in Iowa polls is over; given the tied New Hampshire race, it seems safe to say that if Clinton or Obama win iowa they will be significantly favored to win New Hampshire as well -- which is already a huge victory for Obama given that as late as October it looked like Clinton would easily keep a NH lead even if she stumbled in Iowa.


  • In Iowa, Huckabee has opened up a huge lead -- and there is no evidence that it is tightening here: he leads 37% to 23% for Romney. Everyone else is far behind: Thompson and McCain are 11%, with everyone else in single-digits.

  • In New Hampshire, Romney gets great news, as he keeps his lead far ahead of John McCain: He gets 34% to McCain's 21%, with Giuliani at 15%. Huckabee says in single-digits, at 9%.

  • In the Strategic Vision poll, the race is tightening here: 29% for Huck to 27% for Romney. now, Strategic Vision finds Thompson at 15% and McCaina t 14% -- potentially leading to some shake-up by next week. Last week, Huck got 31% and Romney 25% -- with McCain only at 8%, confirming that there is some movement in favor of the Arizona Senator here.
The polls are contradicting each other on whether the Iowa race is tightening at the top. Romney has a significant organizational edge over Huckabee, but that can only take him so far -- not make him overcome a 14% spread. It looks like Huckabee might be set to survive the deluge of oppo research and negative stories after all, though don't dismiss the massive nature of Romney advertising in the state right now and his ability to close the gap, especially if it's as small as Strategic Vision suggests. As for McCain, a third-place finish would be a huge victory for him -- and there very well could be some surprising movement in his favor.

At least Romney gets the clearest New Hampshire lead he's had in a while; McCain had been coming immediately behind him for about 2 weeks, but Romney has not gone down at all. Instead, McCain has swapped positions with Rudy Giuliani and taken most of his support -- and that should leave some hope for Romney that he can pull of a New Hampshire victory after losing the Iowa caucuses. Though that could very depend on how big his loss is -- making January 3rd very important.

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