New Iowa poll is a Christmas gift for Hillary and... McCain?! (Updated: McCain making a run for it?)

This could possibly be the first time in history pollsters have to work on December 24th; but with Iowa around the corner we are getting polls at the end of December. Now we will have to take polls with a grain of salt from now on, cause with people going on break and things messed up by holidays, things can get unreliable. (Check out latest from Iowa's Democratic race and GOP race).

Here is ARG's latest release from Iowa. A week ago, Clinton was on top 29% to 25% and 18% for Edwards, while Huckabee was dominating the GOP race 28% to 20% for... McCain (the first poll in pretty much 8-9 months showing McCain ahead of Romney). Here is what we get today:

  • Among the GOP, 5 candidates are in double-digits and within 13%: Huckabee at 23%, Romney at 20%, McCain at 17%, Giuliani at 14%, Paul at 10%. Thompson only gets 3%.
  • Among Democrats, Hillary crushes the opposition 34% to Edwards's 20% and Obama's 19%.
While McCain has lost his edge over Romney, these numbers are still stunning -- and could they be believable? Rasmussen also showed an Iowa surge for McCain last week, so with three polls within 7 days maybe there is something to it?

The big outlier in the GOP poll is naturally Thompson's percentage: 4%?! That's just very implausible, given that if anything Thompson has been growing stronger in Iowa in the past 2-3 weeks. All in all, I think this confirms that Iowa polls this week will be very unreliable and probably all over the place.

As for Democrats, I'm not sure what to think: The poll last week confirmed that Obama was losing his momentum, and was in line with everything else. The poll this week is not at all in line with what we have seen, but it is also by far the latest poll in the field (December 20-23) so if there is any big Clinton momentum out there it's only going to be picked up now.

So all in all same as the GOP poll: Take Clinton's double-digit lead with a grain of salt, and let's wait for other institutes to confirm whether she has opened up a lead.

But one thing does appear confirmed already: Clinton has erased her downward spiral in Iowa and the trend-lines are in her favor -- while it is impossible to judge how far that has allowed her to rise or whether it has just been useful to halt Obama's rise, there is no question that Clinton's gloom of two weeks ago is now gone.

Thank you Des Moines Register endorsement?

Update: TPM reports that McCain has now scheduled three days of campaigning in Iowa. Is he actually hearing confirmation of the ARG polls and seeing his numbers move as well in Iowa? This could prove huge: McCain was expected to get a very low result in Iowa, and he has been out of the state for months. And you can be sure he wouldn't come back in and open himself up to talk of a disappointing result (whereas now no one was going to fault him since he hadn't campaigned in Iowa) if he didn't seen an opportunity. A strong McCain third place (I dare not even speak of a second place) would be huge news and would probably propel McCain very far in New Hampshire.

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