Iowa is wide, wide open

This dispatch is from a friend who is in Iowa. Like me, this person supports Sen. John Edwards, but the behind-the-scenes view benefits anyone who’s interested in the race for ’08. (Emphasis mine throughout.)

I am here in Iowa and the new Des Moines Register poll came out:

Obama 28
Hilllary 25
Edwards 23

But –VERY fluid — over half said they are still willing to change their mind

The fav/unfav shows trouble for Clinton — but good news for Edwards:

Clinton — 68 fav, 30 unfav

Obama — 84 fav, 14 unfav

Edwards – 86 fav, 13 unfav

The papers have been covering another angle here — Obama’s strongest support comes from younger, college age supporters. Because of the earlier date of the caucus, the colleges are still closed for the holiday and the dorms are closed. Obama sent a flier to 50k college age kids — urging them to register here (even if from somewhere else) and find somewhere to stay. So a big question — will the Obama supporters show up, or will they be absent like the Dean supporters ? In 2004 only 17% were under 29.

In fact, last night at the forum, some were saying this Des Moines Register poll could not reflect an up tick for Obama — but an over sample of youth. Their last poll (October) had only 9% in under 35 age group, while this one has 14%

But Obama is cutting in to the Clinton women vote — and Oprah comes to town this week.

So in Iowa — it is still anyone’s race, but Obama has some momentum, Hillary is falling and Edwards is holding steady.

This tracks with what I’ve heard elsewhere. Edwards, discounted by many to second tier status with the likes of Gov. Bill Richardson, is often polled in 3rd place. But it’s a strong 3rd place!

Edwards highlights: he is holding steady though being outspent HUGELY on the airwaves. Clinton and Obama are up and up big. It is odd seeing so many political commercials in December. Edwards also has a lead in previous caucus goers — so turn out is key. January 3rd, kids home and not on the campus, Orange bowl, — all a recipe for party faithful — and that is Edward’s strong suit. Also, almost half of caucus goers traditionally have been in rural areas, and there Obama is running solid third

Saw Edwards a 3 events yesterday: Every child matters forum, Heartland forum , and Black/Brown forum — then later a t dinner. He is connecting to folks. WE will see if it is enough. If I had to predict — I would say Hillary finishes third unless she stops the bleeding.

But — Bill has been in town and was at the forum — so it is anybody’s game.

Edwards has an ace in the hole- or several aces- that give him a change to win Iowa, or at least beat expectations. His supporters are reliable caucus-goers. He’s also loved by party faithful. (At my last 36th District Democrats meeting, Edwards got lots of love from the Ballard liberals and former Deaniacs.)

Also, Edwards has the same advantage he did in 2004 in Iowa. The caucus system rewards candidates who are a good “second choice.” If Obama isn’t viable in a precinct, I don’t think they’ll flock to Clinton, who’s bashing the shit out of Obama right now all over the local media. Clinton supporters will be in a similar situation. I wonder where Richardson’s supporters will go if their candidate isn’t viable. In ’04, Kucinich pissed off loads of Dean supporters when he threw his supporters behind Edwards. Could such a thing happen again, but to a different candidate this time? John Edwards could pick up a lot of votes as the result of being the “second choice.”

“Fluidity” is the word of the day in Iowa. Last time, in ’04, four candidates were within a few points, but on caucus day the participants chose Kerry and Edwards and ditched Dean and Gephardt. Caucus-goers can flips the CW on it’s ear at anytime.


  1. 1

    FricknFrack spews:

    I’m sure hoping you’re right Will!

    I’ve been backing Edwards for such a long time. My personal opinion, though, is that just because a candidate doesn’t have so MANY commercials on the airwaves can sometimes be a GOOD thing. Caucus go-ers aren’t stupid. And sometimes the ‘Over Done Advertisement’ spiels leaves one voting AGAINST, just because they are sick of seeing that candidate’s mug on TV (while interrupting every favorite show a person is trying to watch).

  2. 4

    Undercover Brother spews:

    Only Edwards and Denny K could get me to cast a vote for the Ass party…he could still lose me with the wrong running mate should he get that far but i like the news.

  3. 5

    exelizabeth spews:

    The thought of another two white, middle aged, Christian guys running against each other again honestly really turns me off. A lot of people are trying to be all “above” identity politics with this election, but fuck that. I’ll be above identity politics when the goddamn race and/or sex barrier has been broken and I have the luxury to be.

  4. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I recently watched a TV interview with an Iowa voter. She likes Edwards but said he had his chance. I’m kinda in the same place. I see him as a weak candidate. He got eaten alive in his debate with Cheney, is thin on experience (only 1 Senate term, no executive office) and hasn’t held any office for years, and his fundraising is far behind the other two. It’s tempting to think a southern white guy stands a better chance in November than a woman or African-American, but that won’t spare him the inevitable GOP attacks, or convince voters he’s tough enough for the job. He comes across as too nice. Perhaps that perception would change if he did some major ass kicking in the primaries.

    This campaign reminds me a bit of ’68. Then, as now, we had an unpopular sitting president who was not running for re-election and the major issue was an unpopular war. Eugene McCarthy forced LBJ out of the race by winning New Hampshire. A lot of young people worked their butts off for McCarthy and were elated when he won that primary. Then RFK jumped into the race and the youth vote was divided; a lot of people like RFK, but those who had campaigned hard for McCarthy were irritated by what they saw as an opportunist tried to cash in on what they and their candidate had worked so hard for. Then, immediately upon winning the California primary and — people thought — probably the nomination too, Bobby was assassinated which upended the whole race. Then the party establishment’s pro-war candidate, Humphrey, walked away with the nomination while police were beating up demonstrators outside in the streets, and the Republicans nominated Nixon. To say the young people who had gotten involved with politics were frustrated at that point is a monumental understatement. They felt like all the blood, sweat, and tears they had poured into a campaign they hoped would end the war didn’t count for shit. Then Nixon won a squeaker in November, and dragged the war on for another 4 years, followed by Watergate, and a deep cynicism set in from which many in my generation never recovered. That was the end of the Baby Boomers’ innocence. A lot of things died in that L.A. hotel lobby that night that Bobby was shot, and even people who didn’t support him realized things would never be the same again.

    I don’t know how this 2008 race will play out, but I think there’s going to be vast, deep anger in this country if another Republican enters the White House in 2009.

  5. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I would like to see a strong leader — not frontrunner, but leader — emerge from the early caucuses and primaries. With people rallying around him/her like Bobby in ’68. We know what the Pukes will do. They’ll play the fear card and portray our candidate as weak against terrorists. A candidate with an aura of strength can overcome that. Even though Giuliani is a bullshitter and has a lot of baggage, he wears such an aura, to a degree. It’s his personality and physical appearance that projects this impression of strength and competence, even though nothing in his record merits it. That could turn into a big problem for us if we nominate someone who seems boyish (Edwards) or unseasoned (Obama). This is where the argument for Hillary comes into play. Nobody likes her but some are tempted to believe she can face the enemy (Republicans) better than the guys. All the effort they (i.e., GOP propagandists) have made to paint her as a “cold-hearted bitch” actually works to her advantage in this scenario. I may opt for it myself, we’ll see. (But if she falters in the polls, it’s a different ballgame.)

    I’m still inclined to think Giuliani will be their nominee, but it’s conceivable Huckabee could emerge as a dark horse. I think Huckabee would be an extraordinarily vulnerable candidate, and they’d be foolish to nominate him, but stranger things have happened. Giuliani is much better established with the public as someone they’re willing to trust despite all his flaws. Huckabee has even more baggage than Giuliani and none of the stage presence or persona that works so well for Rudy. A few months ago, I thought Romney was the likely nominee, but he’s fading fast. Thompson is proving a non-starter.

    For a long time, I’ve expected November to be a Hillary-Rudy faceoff, and I’m still inclined to believe that’s what will happen. I think Hillary would win that race, but not by a comfortable margin, it’ll be close. And that will encourage the GOPers to pull out all the stops on their grab bag of dirty tricks — smearing, swiftboating, voting machine rigging, vote suppression, vote stealing, the whole 9 yards. Only close elections can be stolen that way. And if they think it’s close, they’ll make a maximum effort to steal another one, even if their base is dispirited.

    What I would really like to see is a Democratic candidate catch fire in a way that would just blow those rancid neoconvict pigfuckers so far out of the water they’ll throw in the towel and give up.

  6. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Candidates’ Positions on Social Security Reform



    Clinton: Opposes individual accounts. Opposes eliminating the current cap on income subject to Social Security tax. Pledged to stop the practice of borrowing from surplus. Would convene bipartisan commission to study long-term solvency.

    Obama: Opposes individual accounts. Opposes raising retirement age or cutting benefits. Leans toward phasing removing the cap, with a ‘donut’ that would protect income between $100,000 and $200,000 from the payroll tax.

    Edwards: Opposes individual accounts. Favors raising the cap, but says he would support a ‘donut’ similar to Obama’s.


    Giuliani: Supports individual investment accounts. Would not raise taxes to ensure long-term solvency.

    McCain: Not committed to, but says open to, individual accounts if they don’t divert payroll taxes. Says he will submit a plan to save Social Security and Medicare by reducing growth in benefits without raising taxes.

    Romney: Favors individual accounts funded with the current Social Security surplus. Opposes raising payroll taxes or retirement age. Favors reducing benefits from currently promised levels by indexing future benefit increase to inflation instead of wages for high income recipients, while retaining wage indexing for low and middle income recipients.

    Thompson: Favors letting workers (at their option) pay into individual accounts with federal matching contribution from the current surplus, on top of paying the current payroll tax (which would still be required). Opposes raising the tax. Wants to index benefits to inflation instead of wages.

    Huckabee: Radical plan replaces income tax with consumption tax, eliminates Social Security tax, and phases out SS program by encouraging new retirees to trade future benefits for lump sum and would have future retirees rely on individual accounts.

    Quoted under fair use; for complete article and/or copyright info see

  7. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: Democrats would protect future benefits from cuts by expanding the payroll tax to higher incomes (except Clinton, who’s squishy about where she would get the money).

    Republicans prefer cutting benefits to raising taxes, and like individual accounts — which is ridiculous, because this idea is going nowhere as long as Democrats control even one side of Congress. In fact, all they need to block it is 41 Senate seats; when was the last time they didn’t have them? In 1860? It’s crazy for Romney and Thompson to even talk about funding individual accounts from the current surplus when everyone else is trying to figure out what to do about the surplus drying up in a few years. Huckabee is a whacko — he embraced Steve Forbes’ discredited idea of making our tax system even more regressive, and tops it off by wanting to eliminate the Social Security program. When people realize this, he’ll get killed at the polls.

  8. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    When Republicans talk about individual accounts, they mean individual accounts in lieu of Social Security. We already have voluntary individual accounts — IRAs, Roths, 401(k)s, deferred comp, etc. Any with earned income can put money in individual tax-sheltered retirement accounts right now, if they want to.

    Social Security is one of the most spectacularly successful government programs of all time. It eliminated poverty among the elderly in this country. Experts say it extended American average lifespans by more than 3 years. Social Security also plays a major role in preventing a repetition of the Great Depression; most recipients spend their checks as soon as they get them, and since this income is not dependent on jobs or business activity, it helps support consumer spending during periods of economic weakness. No person in their right mind would propose weakening or eliminating this program, but that’s exactly what all of the GOP candidates want to do.

    The idea of diverting payroll taxes to individual accounts is nuts. This would either require drastically slashing benefits to retirees, or adding trillion of dollars to the national debt, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the currency and purchasing power of people’s savings. Of course, the Republican candidates won’t tell you which they prefer, but it’s not hard to figure out when you look at their proposals to curtail future benefits.

    The Romney/Thompson schemes are especially perfidious, because they would create a vast new entitlement program with money that doesn’t exist.

    Even if there was nothing else wrong with the Republican candidates — and every one of them carries a ton of shit — their Social Security schemes in and of themselves disqualify them from the presidency. These schemes are reckless, fiscally irresponsible, and will do the nation and millions of our people great harm. And since none of them have any chance in a Congress controlled by Democrats, or even in a Congress with enough Democratic senators to maintain a filibuster, if any one of these Republicans occupies the White House in 2009 absolutely nothing will get done about Social Security before 2015. We will simply see 4 more years of the current standoff between Bush and the Democrats.

    So, when you watch the debates and listen to the GOP candidates, remember what the State Trooper says at the scene of a train wreck:

    “Move along, folks. There’s nothing to see here.”

    And don’t even THINK about voting for one of them. Under any circumstances. Period. Even if you utterly, positively, totally loathe the Democratic nominee.

  9. 13

    Marcel spews:


    Brevity is the soul of wit, no?

    To return to the topic, the IA caucuses, good post. It seems that all polls will have difficulty because they do not measure or predict actual caucus attendance very well nor the effect of the second choice rule.

  10. 14

    YIKES spews:

    “The papers have been covering another angle here — Obama’s strongest support comes from younger, college age supporters.”

    Unrealistic, idealistic, unseasoned, non-taxpaying emotional kids.
    That bodes real well for our Kountry.

    Edwards made his fortune as an ambulance-chasing attorney.
    Because of Edwards & his trial attorney ilk, insurance costs and the cost of doing business in America is exhorbitant.
    Remember, the “TRUE cost” of our litigious society is not just the actual Judgments company’s are forced to pay…..but the additional cost of doing business in response to the excessive litigation.
    No wonder we can no longer compete & businesses are fleeing to friendlier Country’s.
    Edwards also lives in his 24,000 sq. ft. mansion while touting the Global Warming mantra.
    Edwards also has an ego….$400 haircut!!
    Why not give the $$ to the Food Bank??
    They could have purchased nearly 2 TONS of canned foods for the price of that haircut.
    Edwards is a loser.
    Obama is a flip-flopper.

    Hillary is the right person for the job.

  11. 15

    Blue John spews:

    I’m for Edwards/Obama.
    Hillary is too corporate, too Republican Lite, for me. However, I’ll vote for her in the main election if she is nominated. She is still better than any republican. But I probably won’t go out and campaign for her, cause I don’t like her.

  12. 16

    please pay attention spews:

    I don’t have an axe to grind, but I do believe it is interesting that so many people believe Edwards is the most progressive candidate. He wasn’t as progressive in the 2004 election campaign.

    Maybe, just maybe, his political consultants read the field and said that with Clinton and Obama the likely key rivals for the nomination, that Edwards should run to the left in the primaries. Just sayin…

  13. 17

    Chris Stefan spews:

    Sorry but I have to judge candidates on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. If that means supporting a white Christian male, so be it.

    Be that as it may, he does come from a very modest background. I believe he is quite sincere when he speaks of poverty and the struggles of the average working American. Remember he was talking about the “Two Americas” in 2004 so this is nothing new.

  14. 18

    mark spews:

    Edwards is so in love with himself that he looks at his
    drivers license when he jerks off. Roger probably does too.