Two new polls bring good news for Romney, Edwards

We are served with two new Iowa polls this Sunday morning and, for once, they both have similar results and bring good news to John Edwards and Mitt Romney.

First up, a McClatchy-MSNBC poll taken from December 26th to 28th:

  • Among Democrats, it's a three-way tie with John Edwards at 24%, Hillary Clinton at 23% and Barack Obama at 22%. Two weeks ago, Clinton got 27%, Obama 25% and Edwards 21%. And there is some movement in the second-tier, with Richardson up 3 at 12% and Biden up 3 at 9%.
  • In a key finding, the pollster asked respondents to choose between the big three (something that many will have to do come January 3rd) and Edwards jumped up to a big lead: 33% to 26% for both of his rivals. In other words, Edwards has a significant advantage among second-choice preferences.

  • There is also a lot of movement in the GOP race -- and Romney has taken the lead back (that's three polls in a row at this point, for those who are counting). He gets 27% compared to Huckabee's 23%. In the battle for third-place, Thompson at 14% is tied with McCain at 13%. Three weeks ago, Huckabee was ahead 31% to 20% -- some big catch-up by Romney.
Next up is Zogby partnered with C-Span who has started a tracking poll that will be updated daily right up until Thursday:

  • Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton gets 31%, Obama gets 27% and Edwards 24% -- which suggests there is some distance between them.
  • But here again Edwards has a more than significant edge in second-choice preferences: He is the second choice of 30% of voters, versus 25% for Obama... and 12% for Clinton.
  • When the supporters of non-viable candidates are asked to realign, however, Clinton keesp her lead -- and the gap has only slightly tightened (since there aren't that many supporters of non-viable candidates in the first place): 36% for Clinton, 33.5% for Obama and 31% for Edwards. 

  • The Republican race also has the Romney-Huckabee fight back in a tie, with Huckabee up 28% to 27%. McCain gets 11%, Thompson 8% and Giuliani 7%.
A few quick notes:

The second-choice of Democrats: This could clearly be the deal-maker come Thursday night, and Edwards's huge lead among second-choice preferences in both polls (and confirmed by most others) suggests he is better positioned than the two others to win the caucuses. On the other hand, Clinton looks set to lose much of her advantage once second-choice preferences kick-in. And this confirms what I said yesterday: Clinton will likely need to come in the caucuses with a significant edge to get a tiny victory, since Edwards and Obama look like they will be able to close some of the gap once realignement kicks in. And that also means that gaps are likely to create them very quickly: Look how quickly Edwards jumped up to a 7% lead in that MSNBC poll! However Clinton does have some hope in the fact that there aren't that many Democrats who will be asked to realign (see the Zogby poll). 

Romney's expectations: A month ago, everyone expected Romney to win Iowa and he was likely to get nothing at all from such a victory. Now that he has a good chance of winning, it would be a major story if he managed to pull it through when he seemed so utterly lost just a few weeks ago. Clearly, the pounding that Huckabee is receiving is starting to make him drop -- and we will see in the Zogby poll of the next few days if he goes down even further. There are ads running against Huckabee in the state, and not only because of Romney. Thompson sent out a few anti-Huckabee mailers, and the Club for Growth is still running its ads as well. The press is pounding away on the foreign policy mistakes, and Huckabee is barely responding to any of it. Iowa is back into a tie, and Romney's superior organization could very well do the rest of the trick.

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