Democrat Hillary Clinton is holding on to a tenuous lead among likely Democratic caucus–goers in Iowa less than two months before those caucus participants will gather in neighborhood meetings to decide which candidate should carry their party banner into the 2008 presidential election.
She leads with 28% support, down from 30% in an August Zogby telephone poll. Barack Obama of Illinois, having made a serious campaign blitz of Iowa in recent months, is showing some progress at 25%, up from 19% in August. Holding steady in third place is John Edwards of North Carolina at 21%, down a bit from the late summer poll. Undecideds remain steady at 12%.
However, the race tightens dramatically when second choices are factored into the mix – a critical wrinkle in the Iowa caucuses. In the caucuses, a first round of “balloting” is conducted, and those candidates who do not win at least 15% support are ruled “unviable” and supporters are directed to a second choice among those who remained “viable” before a second round of “balloting” is conducted. Zogby polling shows Edwards makes big strides as a second–choice candidate, jumping six percent (see chart).
Pollster John Zogby: “This is a real horserace coming into the stretch run. With less than two months before the caucuses, this is anybody’s ballgame.”
The survey shows Edwards wins second–choice support from Richardson backers and from Biden backers – both experienced pols with long Washington resumes. Obama also benefited more as a second choice than Clinton, making the race extremely tight.
Gender politics has been a big factor in the Democratic nomination battle, and Clinton – the first woman to be a front–runner for a major party nomination, leads among Iowa women with 32%, compared to 27% for Obama and 19% for Edwards. Among men, it’s a deadlock, with Edwards at 24%, and Clinton and Obama both at 23% support.
However, the picture changes a bit among second–choice voters, where Edwards wins 25% support, compared to 23% for Obama and 18% for Clinton. Among men making a second choice, Edwards also leads with 24% support, compared to 21% for Obama and 19% for Clinton.
But Clinton’s support appears stronger than that of Edwards and Obama. Asked about the likelihood they could change their minds before January, just 39% of Clinton backers said it is likely, compared to 50% of Obama supporters and 51% of Edwards supporters.
Asked whether former President Bill Clinton would have a negative or positive impact on a Hillary Clinton presidency, should one come to pass, Iowa Democrats are mostly optimistic. While 79% said his impact would be positive, nine percent said it would be negative and 12% were unsure.