Could Hillary Clinton get 3rd place in Iowa? The final pre-caucus poll by the Des Moines Register suggests as much...
Obama was the choice of 32 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers, up from 28 percent in the Register's last poll in late November, while Clinton, a New York senator, held steady at 25 percent and Edwards was virtually unchanged at 24 percent.
The telephone survey of 800 likely Democratic caucusgoers was taken Dec. 27-30. Interestingly enough, support for Edwards rose significantly -- by 3% -- for those sampled in Dec. 27-28 versus those polled Dec. 29-30, while Clinton's numbers have declined by 4% in that time period.
If this is an actual trend, as opposed to a statistical variance, then Hillary Clinton might find herself with a very disappointing 3rd place finish in Iowa... something likely to significantly impact her results going into the other primaries.
Interestingly enough, when respondents were asked which candidate best matched their core principles, 28% said Barack Obama, 25% said John Edwards, and 21% said Hillary Clinton.
Clinton campaign chief strategist Mark Penn -- the guy who made a point of referring to Obama's teenage cocaine use, even after Hillary's campaign promised to stop bringing it up -- tried to spin this bad news in a pretty negative way.
"The Des Moines Register poll adopts an unprecedented new turnout model for the caucuses, and its new poll is out of sync with the other polling done in the race. . . So we do not see this poll as accurately reflecting the trends we are seeing in other polls, on our nightly canvasses or in our own polls, and voters should understand this is a very close race, and that their participation on caucus night could make all of the difference."
Indeed. Mark Penn is annoyed that The Register is predicting that Iowans feel that this is a very important election, and that they are more motivated to caucus this time around. He's annoyed that the Register aren't ignoring the opinions of a higher percentage of Iowans, by writing them off as not being "likely voters".
He is counting on independent-minded Iowans -- young voters, first-time voters, disillusioned voters, voters tired of an unending, unaccountable conflict in Iraq, tired of sacrificing their rights and freedoms, tired of politics as usual -- *NOT* to vote, because he believes that as long as enough people *DON"T* show up to causus, Hillary Clinton could win.
He's right. This is a close race, and your participation on caucus night could make all the difference.