And the Winner Is...
The Fix's Chris Cillizza weighs in on The Des Moines Register endorsement:
The Des Moines Register endorsed Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Republican Sen. John McCain this evening, handing Clinton and McCain a boost of momentum with the crucial caucuses less than three weeks away.
The Register's endorsement is one of the most coveted prizes of the presidential primary season. All three of the frontrunning candidates in Iowa -- Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), Barack Obama (Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) -- as well as many, many of their surrogates lobbied hard for the endorsement, believing, perhaps rightly, that a stamp of approval from the Register could put them over the top in this tight race. (Read Jeff Zeleny's terrific piece in the New York Times for more on the courtship efforts, especially by Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.)
In 2004, the Register backed Edwards who at that point was still running behind better known candidates including former Gov. Howard Dean (Vt.), then Rep. Dick Gephardt (Mo.) and Sen. John Kerry (Mass.). Buoyed by the Register endorsement, Edwards surged in the final three weeks of the campaign, placing a strong second to Kerry and eventually winning a spot as the Massachusetts' Senator's running mate.
Four years earlier, the Register's endorsement had far less impact. It chose former Sen. Bill Bradley (N.J.) over then Vice President Al Gore but Gore rolled to a 63 percent to 35 percent victory.
Poll after poll shows the Democratic race within the statistical margin of error. On Friday alone, two polls came out; the first, conducted by Hotline/Diageo had Clinton and Obama knotted at 27 percent and Edwards slightly behind at 22 percent. The other survey, conducted by Research 2000 for the Quad-City Times showed Obama with 33 percent to 24 percent each for Clinton and Edwards.
Unlike in 2004, when the field was incredibly wide open, it's hard to see anyone outside of the Big 3 winning Iowa due to the large amount of money they have spent in the state on advertising and organization coupled with the loyalty each exerts on a base of at least 20 percent of voters.
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