Here we are a day away from the official kickoff of the presidential primary season (Sorry caucuses, but research shows that you take a backseat to primaries--see Gurian. Ah, shameful namedropping.) and things are still up in the air in both parties. It's the beginning for the American electorate (or at least for those that care to show up for the primaries) and the beginning of the end for all but the most viable candidates with the exception of perhaps Dennis Kucinich and Alan Keyes. So what's been happening on the trail since the last update?
1) Paul sent this over today (via the latest Pew Research Poll):
McCain Rebounds In National Poll; Clinton Holds Big Lead
January 2, 2008 10:25 AM
Pew Research Poll
Rudy Giuliani's once solid lead among Republicans nationwide has vanished,
and John McCain -- whose campaign was regarded as dead in the water this
summer -- is back on top with the GOP leaders. McCain has 22 percent support
among Republicans, followed by Giuliani at 20 percent and Mike Huckabee at 17
percent. Mitt Romney follows at 12 percent with Fred Thompson at 9 percent.
The survey was conducted Dec. 19-30 and has a 5 percent margin of error.
Giuliani was counting on the 21 states that vote Feb. 5, but the poll indicates he
is in a virtual tie with McCain in those states.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton maintains her large national lead over
Barack Obama, 46 percent to 26 percent, with John Edwards at 14 percent.
So the national polls indicate McCain is a factor again in the race for the GOP nomination and Hillary is running away with things on the Democratic side. And while the US has the closest thing it has ever had to a national primary day with this year's February 5 Super Tuesday, these nominations still play out on the state level with Iowa and New Hampshire still going first.
2) Let's deal with the Republicans first:
Mitt Romney at one time or another had fairly comfortable leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire. But Mike Huckabee and John McCain have challenged those leads in Iowa and New Hampshire respectively. With McCain basically writing Iowa off to focus on New Hampshire, the two-pronged attack on Romney in both early states is causing the former Massachusetts governor to split time between both states instead of going it one at a time. Here's the deal though. Romney and Huckabee are in essentially the same position as the top three Democrats in Iowa: neck and neck. That one could go either way. In New Hampshire though, McCain is going to rely on independents to once again deliver a victory in the Granite state. However, the LA Times is reporting that Obama could be siphoning off some of that independent support from McCain in the state (I apologize for the link to an Obama supporter blog, but the LA Times has already password protected that article For those that want to read the article from the source, a link is included and registration for the paper's site is just a click away.).
3) Which brings us to the Democrats:
Still locked in a three-way tie in Iowa, Clinton, Obama and Edwards continue to make last minute pitches to potential caucus goers. The thing that is going unnoticed again (as it did in the 2004 Iowa Democratic caucus) is the second choice voters. Now, the rules of the caucuses stipulate that supporters of candidates receiving less than fifteen percent can move to those other candidates in the upper tier. NBC Nightly News on Sunday (December 31) reported that Edwards was becoming the favorite second choice of those not already aligned with any of the top three candidates. The Edwards camp is also playing up the results of a poll that reallocates based on second choice votes (Edwards enjoys a 41-34-25 edge over Clinton and Obama respectively.). These second choice folks were the same ones that catapulted Edwards to his surprising second place finish in the state in 2004 and that bloc is still one to keep our eyes on tomorrow night.
UPDATE: Kucinich has urged his Iowa supporters to back Obama in the event that he does not reach the necessary fifteen percent.
4) If you haven't already and like to reminisce about campaigns past, be sure to check out CQ's review of presidential nomination campaigns since 1912. It's a nice eight part read.
5) Paul mentioned it before in an earlier email, but let me mention it also: C-SPAN is offering live coverage of the Iowa caucuses again this year. Here's the link. If I find that it will be simulcast online I'll send around that link as well. If they aren't covering it online (and I'm sure Paul will tape it), I'm going to try and DVR it through my media player and briefly post a "pirated" version on either this blog or my website tomorrow night at the conclusion of the coverage. I'll need to check on the space capacity of both first. But I'll find a way to get it up there for the group. Also, I'll be online tomorrow night to post and discuss the results, so come on by at your leisure to talk about all things Campaign '08.