A new InsiderAdvantage poll in Iowa shows John Edwards leading among likely caucus-goers with 30% support, followed by Sen. Hillary Clinton at 26% and Sen. Barack Obama at 24%.
This is the first poll to show Edwards ahead of his rivals since summer.
Key finding: Edwards holds a significant advantage “among a group who could be key to the first contest of the presidential year: those who say their first choice is someone other than the top three. Under Iowa Democratic Party rules, candidates who poll less than 15 percent in the first vote at each caucus around the state are eliminated, and their supporters get a second chance to vote for another candidate.”
Consider this a first read on my blog. For those of you who don’t know, when covering campaigns, the media works on themed cycles. Think of it as sort of a story arch during which every media outlet begins pushing the same message. On the democratic side the theme started “Hillary can’t win the nomination” then became “Hillary is inevitable” then “Hillary is struggling Obama is rising” and right now its “Obama is surging. He’s the 1a front runner who is giving Hillary a serious run for her money.” But watch out, this poll, along with Obama’s attacks on Edwards are going to be reflected in the new media theme which will probably run until the caucus. Obama has peaked. Don’t believe me? Read this:
The unexpected skirmish in Iowa yesterday between Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards, as reported by the Des Moines Register, was likely about a change in momentum in the Democratic presidential race.
In fact, David Yepsen noted it may suggest Obama’s “internal polls are showing the Illinois senator has peaked.” Now, a public poll shows Edwards back in the lead with Obama in third place.
First Read wonders if Obama “is worrying that 1) Edwards is doing well in second-choice polling, or 2) doing well in some of the more rural parts of the state — places where Obama thinks he could do well if it weren’t for Edwards.”
The word on the street is that if Clinton can’t win Iowa she’s strongly pulling for Edwards to win even if she finishes third. This makes sense for two reasons.
1. Without a win in Iowa, Obama won;t get the push in New Hampshire he needs to overcome Hillary. The polls are close now because he’s been relying on a premature Iowa boost. (The typical rule of thumb is that the winner of Iowa gets a big boost in New Hampshire.)
2. Edwards is too far behind structurally,politically, and in polls to win New Hampshire, thus making NH a likely Clinton pick up or at the very least she’s in a good position to win
3. Word on the street is that South Carolina black voters are waiting to see if Obama can pick up white votes, Iowa, before they decided to throw their support behind him. (not a position I support, I’m just reporting what the whispers are saying.) An Obama loss in Iowa, let alone an implosion, would severly harm Obama’s chance to win South Carolina. A Iowa, NH,SC loss for Obama would cause him to drop out. Even if Obama won SC Clinton leads in Feb 5th states, enough to carry her to victory.
Stay tuned for more whispers on the campaign trail…