Daily Revolt

October 16, 2007

How Hillary Could Tank

Has she peaked too soon? This article appeared in Salon:
A memo put out by the Obama campaign last week argues that the race is close in Iowa "not because it's the one state in the union immune to Senator Clinton appeal. It is because voters are paying close attention ... As other early states get more engaged, we will see a much closer race."

Handicapping Iowa at this stage is nearly impossible. Polls have the accuracy of a blunderbuss, in part because there is no certainty how many Iowa Democrats will actually attend the caucuses. Private estimates from campaign officials range from 125,000 (roughly the 2004 turnout) to a historic high of 200,000. Pollster Mark Blumenthal on his blog points out, "Since late July, we have seen 13 different Democratic polls in Iowa taken by 11 difference pollsters. Each pollster does things differently, so we have 11 different conceptions of 'likely caucus-goers.'"

What this means, in reality, is that Hillary Clinton could easily finish second and conceivably even third in Iowa. Potentially dragging her down is a quirk in Iowa Democratic rules that encourages backers of candidates with less than 15 percent support at a caucus site to switch to another contender. The best guess is that these second-choice voters are more likely to go to, say, Edwards or Obama than Clinton.

If that happens, "Hillary in Trouble" becomes a major headline coming out of Iowa. Virtually all current polls give Clinton a 2-to-1 lead in New Hampshire, but it is too soon to pronounce these numbers definitive. Most Granite State voters remain up for grabs -- a CNN-WMUR poll in late September found that 55 percent of New Hampshire Democrats are still trying to decide on a candidate.

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