Noam Scheiber

Senior Editor

Ankeny, Iowa  There's obviously been a lot of discussion about whether the latest Des Moines Register poll is prescient or delusional. The skepticism arises not so much because Obama is leading, but because of why he's leading--namely, the unusually high number of non-Democrats and first-time caucusgoers (and, to a lesser extent, young people) the Register identifies as likely voters. For what it's worth, I'm not ready to say the Register's turnout assumptions are crazy, though the skepticism is certainly warranted.

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That would be six-year-old Sasha, who almost refused to get off the stage at that rally Eve mentioned. --Noam Scheiber

Dennis Kucinich made the following announcement in Des Moines today: “I hope Iowans will caucus for me as their first choice this Thursday, because of my singular positions on the war, on health care, and trade. This is an opportunity for people to stand up for themselves. But in those caucus locations where my support doesn't reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice. Sen.

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Popular Uprising

Spend enough time on the road with Mike Huckabee these days and you're likely to hear the story of the Razorbacks stadium blanket. The now- notorious blanket came into being during Huckabee's 2002 reelection campaign, when it was quilted by an enthusiastic supporter and passed to a Huckabee aide, who later presented it to the governor. Huckabee's staff reported the gift in an ethics filing the following January. But its estimated $50 value struck a local journalist as suspiciously low.

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Popular Uprising

Spend enough time on the road with Mike Huckabee these days and you're likely to hear the story of the Razorbacks stadium blanket. The now-notorious blanket came into being during Huckabee's 2002 reelection campaign, when it was quilted by an enthusiastic supporter and passed to a Huckabee aide, who later presented it to the governor. Huckabee's staff reported the gift in an ethics filing the following January. But its estimated $50 value struck a local journalist as suspiciously low. The journalist called the quilter, the quilter priced her handiwork at $200, and suddenly a scandal was born.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  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.

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