Last stretch in Iowa: Zogby updates his polls, Edwards rises and Huckabee attacks

Zogby updated their Iowa tracking poll for the second day (here is yesterday's edition). There is some movement towards Edwards and McCain -- and there was already lots of buzz for Edwards prior to this poll coming out!

  • On the Democratic side, Clinton is up 30% to 26% for both Obama and Edwards. Yesterday, Clinton was up 31% to 27% for Obama with 24% for Edwards.
  • The second choice preferences still favor Edwards: 28% to 25% for Obama and 14% for Hillary -- though this is actually a slight improvement from yesterday.

  • Among Republicans, the race is still a toss-up with Huckabee up on Romney 29% to 27%, a statistical tie. It was 29-28 yesterday. McCain goes up from 11% to 13% -- and Zogby reports that McCain was at 15% on Sunday alone, so expect him to rise even more in the coming days. Thompson is at 8%, and Giuliani and Paul get 7%.
Democrats: Edwards v. Obama

Edwards is truly putting himself in the position of favorite with a few days to go, reclaiming the momentum he had for most of the spring at the most ideal moment. Not only is he clearly rising in public polls, but there is plenty of rumors that the private polls of candidate show the same thing which is pushing Obama to go after Edwards with increasing urgency. Just look at Obama's latest attack on Edwards, once again on the subject of the 527s:

You know, you can't on one hand argue that you're going to go after the fat cats and then we have hundreds of thousands of dollars coming in from who knows who and it means that there's less accountability, less disclosure, and if that's the game that we play then there's nothing to prevent those same corporate lobbyists that John Edwards decries from doing the exact same thing to us so there's just go to be some consistency and, you know, straightforwardness in how we approach these issues.

And the Obama-Edwards showdown took the form of a full-blown back-and-forth this week-end over the meaning of change. It started with Edwards critizing Obama's focus on hope and negotiation, chargint that "You can't nice these people to death." Obama answered by summarizing Edwards's argument with a disdainful: "The argument goes that the only way to bring about change is to be angry."

At least this is a clear choice Democrats have to make: Do they want to go down the path of compromise or of more direct confrontation -- and do they believe that special interests can be sat at a table and be convince to give up some of their power? This is clearly well too simplistic a way of putting it, but it is striking that both candidates are embracing this simplicity in the final strech, eager to draw some distinctions.

Republicans: How far can McCain rise?

On the Republican side, the big story come Thursday night could very well be John McCain if he continues to rise like this -- and just think of how much damage he could do in New Hampshire 5 days later if he gets momentum out of Iowa (something that was unthinkable merely two weeks ago). And the question now is slowly becoming: Is it conceivable that Romney wins Iowa... but then loses New Hampshire? Or is a Romney comeback in Iowa such a big story that it sucks out the oxygen of McCain's good result?

And the big problem of McCain's surge is that there isn't much to cover: McCain is not visibly campaigning in Iowa. Most of the action is between Romney and Huckabee and we have hit a new milestone today: Huckabee reportedly shot his own attack ads on Sunday against Romney. He also called Mitt "dishonest" and said Romney should apologize to him. It's been three-four weeks that Romney has been airing his attacks ads against Huck and that Thompson and him are sending out mailer after mailer... and Huckabee had yet to fight back. He has clearly lost ground in the state and is looking increasingly vulnerable, and with three days to go before the caucuses he apparently decided to pound back. Now we might have 3 days of brutal back-and-forth between the two front-runners. That could make them both lose ground which would be good for... who else... McCain who is looking to be everyone's second choice right now.

One last note: The Des Moines Register poll -- awaited by all political junkies for a week now -- will be out tonight.

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