Just to add a bit to Mike's thoughts on the Register poll--Obama's lead is clearly driven by three factors: His lead among first-time caucus-goers, his lead among independents, and his lead among young people. What's interesting about the poll is that all of these groups make up a larger portion of its likely caucus-goers than in most previous polls. So the Register is basically saying that the groups that disproportionately favor Obama are much more likely to turn out than they have in the past.
Ames, Iowa I'm sitting in a restaurant a few blocks from a public library where Biden held an event today. I won't re-hash it--see Mike's recent piece to get a sense of what his events are like; I can vouch for Mike's "blazing confidence" observation--other than two point out two things: 1.) The people who showed up--I'd guess there were 200-250 of them--were remarkably enthusiastic. When it was over, they gave Biden the loudest, most sustained ovation I've seen in Iowa so far.
Like other people on that Obama conference call today, I noticed campaign manager David Plouffe spending an awful lot of time talking about why a vote for John Edwards is essentially a wasted vote, since (Plouffe claimed) he doesn't really have the resources or the organization to compete after Iowa. It's possible that the Obama people see Edwards as the candidate with momentum in the home stretch. Or it's possible that Obama and Edwards are just competing for the same bloc of voters--pro-reform, skeptical of Hillary.
Time's Michael Scherer had a nice piece Thursday about the GOP battle for third here, which could turn out to be nearly as important as the Huckabee/Romney fight for first. One interesting nugget: His new position on the issue is a substantial shift from last year, when Thompson said in a Fox News interview that it was not realistic to expel the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants who are here. "You're going to have to, in some way, work out a deal where they can have some aspirations of citizenship," he told Hannity and Colmes in April of 2006.
Carlisle, Iowa My camera battery was dead when I caught Bill in West Des Moines last weekend for the piece I did, so I figured it was worth a 20-minute drive last night to snap a few photos. He made pretty much the same pitch as last time, though there was a little more about how George W. Bush had tried to undo everything he'd accomplished--and how Bush had said he was going to do it during the 2000 campaign, only no one was paying attention.
I've now heard this a handful of times second-hand, but from people I trust: Hillary's internal tracking polls show her ticking up in the last week or so. The rationale I hear most often is the Des Moines Register poll endorsement, which affirmed her experience, preparedness, etc. One other thing worth passing on. You hear a lot about how high turnout would benefit Clinton and Obama, since their targeting and turnout operations are the more sophisticated and aggressive.
The latest batch of polls shows Romney pulling even or slightly ahead of Huckabee in Iowa, and the Democratic race there either tied or with Clinton slightly ahead. Perhaps more importantly: If all second-tier Democratic candidates fall short and their supporters switch to other candidates, Edwards gains the most, rolling up a clear lead at 33 percent to 26 percent each for Clinton and Obama.
Knoxville, Iowa It's been two weeks since I last attended an Edwards event, and I immediately noticed something new: For some reason he was wearing a smart-looking suit and tie last night rather than his usual blazer and blue jeans combo. Maybe just another sign we're getting down to business here... More substantively, to pick up on something Mike mentioned, he spent a lot of time taking thinly-veiled swipes at Obama, not much time taking similar swipes at Hillary.
Indianola, Iowa From the site of that Huckabee presser a little earlier today: I guess sometimes you hold a press conference in the burger joint you have, not the burger joint you wish you had... --Noam Scheiber
Indianola, Iowa Mike and I are both here at some beer-and-burger joint waiting for a Huckabee presser to start. I missed the preceding event (I think Mike's about to blog about it), but I'm told Huck really laid into Romney, so we'll probably get more of the same. One quick thought before he does: When I showed up at that Romney event this morning, I thought the energy level was pretty high. A decent number of supporters turned out, and there was a respectable media scrum, too. Then I showed up at this event and thought, boy is Romney in trouble.