December 30, 2007

Still Dead Heats In Iowa

A new poll by Reuters, C-SPAN, and Zogby show what most polls have told us about Iowa: it's still a dead heat. For Republicans, only one point separates Mike Huckabee from Mitt Romney, while Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards come within seven points of each other. It makes for a dramatic conclusion to the 2007 phase of the primaries:

Democrat Hillary Clinton holds a narrow lead in Iowa four days before the state opens the presidential nominating race, while Republicans Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are virtually tied, according to a Reuters/C-Span/Zogby poll released on Sunday.

Clinton, a New York senator, led Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois 31 percent to 27 percent, with former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards a close third at 24 percent and no other Democratic contender registering in double-digits.

Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, held a statistically insignificant one-point edge over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 29 percent to 28 percent. Arizona Sen. John McCain was a distant third with 11 percent.

Three Republicans, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, registered 8 percent in the poll.

Reuters notes the importance of the caucus rules in Iowa. In order to remain a viable option for caucus-goers, a candidate has to get at least 15% in the first caucusing. Any candidate failing to get that level of support gets dropped from the list, and their supporters have to recaucus for one of the remaining contenders or leave altogether. [see update; this only applies to Democrats.]

For the Democrats, it looks more unsettled than ever. Hillary has a four-point lead over Barack Obama, statistically a dead heat. Edwards remains close, and he has a slight edge in the second-choice category. With these numbers, however, only around 18% will remain after the first round, and Edwards would have to take more than half to move up significantly. The contest will go to the wire between Hillary and Obama.

Bring the popcorn, and put on a pot of coffee. This one will go late.

UPDATE: The 15% rule only applies to Democrats. In fact, the Republican contest isn't even really binding. The state's delegates will get chosen in the Republican state convention, although one can expect a similar sort of outcome. Republicans will only take a single vote on caucus night, using secret hand-written ballots. Thanks to CapQ reader David G for the tip on this one.

This makes the contest a two-man race in Iowa.

UPDATE II: A new McClatchy-MSNBC poll shows a different race altogether, albeit with half of the sample:

Among Democrats:

  • Former Sen. Edwards of North Carolina has the support of 24 percent;

  • Sen. Clinton of New York has 23 percent;

  • Sen. Obama of Illinois has 22 percent;

  • Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico has 12 percent;

  • Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware has 8 percent;

  • Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut has 2 percent;

  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has 1 percent.

  • Undecided: 8 percent.
  • Among Republicans:

  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney has 27 percent;

  • Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee has 23 percent;

  • Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has 14 percent;

  • Sen. John McCain of Arizona has 13 percent;

  • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has 5 percent;

  • Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has 5 percent;

  • Rep. Duncan Hunter of California has 1 percent.

  • Undecided: 12 percent.
  • This shows Thompson moving up fast, surpassing McCain. This seems like an outlier, but Thompson has become especially active in the last two weeks, and he could be catching fire. If McClatchy had a better sample size, one could have more confidence in these results. (via Memeorandum)


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