Shuffle it up one more time: Edwards tops latest Iowa poll and Romney is still alive

Two polls from Iowa tonight, and two very different sets of results. But that is to be expected in the state given the impossible to predict turnout. (Check the latest Iowa polls here).

One thing is clear, we have to change the story-line, and make it officially a three way race. For those who still believed him out of the running, Insider Advantage has just proved that John Edwards is amazingly strong in Iowa -- and that Mitt Romney is not at all out of the caucuses:

  • Among Democrats, Edwards comes out with 30%, in front of Clinton's 26% and Obama's 24%.
  • The internals, however, are not good for the New York Senator. Among the most likely voters, it's 27-26 for... Obama, with Clinton third at 24. And proving Edwards's huge potential, if candidates have to realign only on the three main candidates (which will happen likely most places on January 3rd given the viability rule), Edwards pulls 41% with Obama and Clinton stuck under 30%!
  • Among Republicans, Huckabee is ahead of Romney 28% to 25%. Everyone else is left far behind, with Thompson at 10%, McCain at 9%, Ron Paul at 6% and Giuliani at 5%. That's right, Rudy is sixth.
  • But among those "most likely" to vote, it's Romney on top by the same margin -- and consider that Romney's organization is much better than anyone else's in the state, so this could be a key result for him.
And then we have a second Iowa poll tonight -- which tells us a very different story. This one is from Washington Post/ABC:

  • It has Obama ahead with 33%, leading Clinton's 29%. Edwards is here distanced at 20%.
  • In a key test, the poll also has the numbers in a "three way race" only. With everyone who didn't choose them having to realign (a likely scenario on January 3rd), it's Obama at 37%, Clinton at 31% and Edwards at 26% -- which confirms that Edwards is the leader in second choices, and Clinton the strongest -- something most polls find.
  • And here's all we need to know about Iowa and how tight it is: "Applying tighter turnout scenarios can produce anything from a 10-point Obama lead to a 6-point Clinton edge." Everything can happen on January 3rd -- and it all hinges on turnout, something every candidates will play on their side.
Clearly, the Insider Advantage poll is an outlier compared to other Iowa surveys. And the big reason is clear: 1/8 of the poll's respondents are under 45, while that age group represented a third of caucus population in 04. And that clearly benefits Edwards, who is the strongest among elderly voters. But still, consider that Edwards -- who led in most polls from the state the first few months of 2007 -- had not come ahead since a Time poll in August that had him at 29%. So this has got to feel good for Edwards, who can now make sure he stays in the storyline all the way to January 3rd and that the media cannot just go away with portraying a two-way race.

And make no mistake about it: As long as she won't win, Clinton would love Edwards to get this over Obama. Edwards would be much less of a threat to her than Obama who has basically tied it all up in New Hampshire and in South Carolina. An Obama win in Iowa could be all he needs to sweep the early states -- while that is not true of Edwards. Meanwhile, Obama does not want Edwards to be in the picture these next three weeks. His camp has been hoping that Edwards backers realize that they have to go for Obama to avoid Clinton but that will certainly not happen if the media keeps Edwards in its storyline.

And on to the Republicans, where a fascinating dynamic is developing. Huckabee is being pound upon by the rest of the field, and he could very well lose his lead in the next three weeks. And there are countless numbers of reports (here's a quick summary from Marc Ambinder) about the "counter-revolution" of conservatives who are panicking about the possibility of a Huckabee nomination (more on that soon, probably).

There are two reasons this whole stretch is good for Romney: (1) He is emerging scotch free from all the negative attacks. This was the time that all campaigns were expected to hit him to soften him up ahead of Iowa. Instead, it's Huckabee that's attracting everyone's time, and Thompson's mailers are going against Huck, not Romney. There is so much negativity a candidate can engage in.

And (2), imagine how much momentum Romney could gather now if he wins Iowa. Compare that to the almost no attention he would have gotten if he had won Iowa a month ago, with no suspense at all and no element of surprise. Now, you can expect Romney to spin a 3 point loss into a victory. And Rudy in sixth position?! You think you can survive January with that, Rudy? Really?

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  • Very nice blog. Excellent content. Thanks for tracking all that great info down.

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    Here's a list of the grammatical problems and malaprops that jump off the screen. A strict self-edit would have exposed them. Here's how they should appear. Remember, when we get to this level of attention, we're responsible for a higher level of writing skill.

    Thanks! Keep up the great reporting!




    which will likely happen most places on January 3rd

    and considering that Romney's organization


    and that the media cannot just get away with portraying a two-way race

    Huckabee is being pounded upon by the rest

    He is emerging scot-free

    There is only so much negativity a candidate can engage in.

    to spin a 3-point loss

    By Anonymous NYC editor, At 19 December, 2007 16:04  

  • I read the first poll article you linked to and in it, it says,

    "When the sample was narrowed to the most likely caucus-goers, based on several questions"...

    LOL. Give me a break. That means the poll was manipulated. Polls are full of shit, they prove nothing. John Kerry had 4% and he won. Get over these stupid ass polls.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 20 December, 2007 11:26  

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