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An End to the Polling Truce

By Jon Cohen
And it's in: the first pollsters to brave the uncertain waters of calling folks during the holidays. Late Thursday, the LA Times and Bloomberg released parallel Iowa and New Hampshire surveys, delivering seasonal cheer for several of the top presidential contenders and heaps of coal for others.

In Iowa, where caucusgoers (officially) ring in the nomination battles on the 10th night of Christmas, the poll found the three leading Democrats locked in a tight race, each with firmly committed support. And in New Hampshire, Obama and Clinton are running about evenly, with Edwards just back.

But on a day where attention turned to the tragedy in Pakistan, Clinton's advantages in the polls on fighting terrorism and experience stand out. So too, though, do Democratic voters' relative preference, at least as of Dec. 26 when the poll concluded, for "new ideas" over experience. A fresh approach and bringing "change" to Washington are Obama strong-suits in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

(Only 7 percent of Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa said national security is one of their top two priorities for candidates to address.)

On the GOP side, the Iowa poll is the latest to catalog Huckabee's steep ascent. He was at 8 percent when Times-Bloomberg last polled; now he's at 36 percent (or 37, see below). Romney runs second in Iowa, but first in New Hampshire, where McCain ranks second. (New Hampshire GOP voters are significantly less likely than those in Iowa to say they've settled on a candidate.)

In both states, McCain rivals Romney as being "well prepared" to be president: Seven in 10 GOP voters in Iowa said Romney is fit to serve, two-thirds said so of McCain and just over a half of Huckabee.

An important backdrop to all of this are the challenges of polling this week. CBS News polling director envisioned a Christmas truce, while's Mark Blumenthal likened it to researching on the "Dark Side of the Moon." He also surveyed many of us public polling types on our views about the week; first results here.

*Note: There are eight sets of numbers coming out of this two-state poll. The Times released figures for both all caucus/primary voters, and ?likely? voters for each party in each state. The Times and Bloomberg stories focus on the bigger pool of respondents; others have reported the likely voter numbers.

On the Democratic side in Iowa, the difference matters, at least on the surface: among all Democratic voters, the horse-race is 29 Clinton, 26 Obama and 25 Edwards, while the tighter likely voter screen is Clinton 31, Edwards 25, Obama 22.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 28, 2007; 11:04 AM ET
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Next: Richardson Calls for an End to Pakistan Military Aid


Wow, I'm really impressed! JakeD and Ohjamboree really nailed it! Why don't you guys tell us what's going to happen in New Hampshire since you had Iowa all figured out. But don't quit your day jobs.

Posted by: kmkirlin | January 4, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Mark this prediction because it's gonna prove accurate.


W Clinton 37% Obama 32%

Edwards 31%

Now this prediction isn't particulary scientific yet I believe it's still pretty close to what happens tomorrow.
Clinton will win by a decent margin because of a well put together late push and surge combined with support
from party faithful, tremendous organization, and finally yet most important is the split of a majority
independents and first time voters by Edwards and Obama basically canceling each other. This will cause Clinton
to win Iowa on her way to the nomination.


W Romney 31%
Huckabee 24%
Paul 14%
Mccain 13%
Thompson 10%
Giuliani 7%
Hunter 1%

Romney wins handily because of money, organization and mainstream party support. The fact that his main
competition comes from niche (in Iowa) candidates will play out well for Romney. Mccain has strong defense
credentials but streamline he is not, and with Paul grabbing a big chunk of independent support (I'll explain)
Mccain fades. Huckabee has tremendous evangelical support, but mostly in the western part of the state
meaning in areas with smaller evangelical communities Huckabee won't be able to pull in as many undecideds
as a candidate with broader appeal. Huckabee also has a money and organization problem to boot.
Basically, Thompson's poor showing will benefit Huckabee and Romney and Giuliani's lack of competitiveness
will cause independents to have more influence. It will be the independents and first time/younger voters
that will cause Paul to do extremely well. Believe it because he has the money (20 million in the 4th quarter ppl)
I assume organization to match funds and his supporters are absolutely committed in a state where he has polled
consistently between 7 and 10 percent since November. He's my pick to upset Iowa but it will be Romney
going strong on his way to the nomination.

Posted by: ohjamboree | January 3, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Greetings from Iowa. Someone is push polling againgst Obama and Hillary is being mocked by what appears to be a Republican inspired mock story about Mrs. Favre starring for the Packers as she has vast knowledge and experience from living and traveling with her husband which then cuts to a criticism of how this compares to Hillary's claimed experience as First Lady qualifying her for beong President. It's probably a lot more effective than the recent New York Times Article as not too many folks out here read that publication. I think Romney probably is maintaining the lead for the most direct negative ad as he's comparing his record with Huckabee's and trying to bring the spirit of Willie Horton back to life on the pardon and parole issue and bad consequences in some cases. A lot of us will be happy when we go back to what passes for normalcy on January 4.

Posted by: ejgallagher1 | December 28, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Here is a record for Huckabee:

Bolton denies he is a Huckabee adviser
By: Lisa Lerer
December 28, 2007 05:24 PM EST

In recent days, Mike Huckabee has tried to answer long-standing questions about who is on his foreign policy team. On Friday morning, he listed former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as someone with whom he either has "spoken or will continue to speak."

At a Thursday evening press conference, Huckabee said, "I've corresponded with John Bolton, who's agreed to work with us on developing foreign policy."

Bolton, however, has a different view. "I'd be happy to speak with Huckabee, but I haven't spoken with him yet," said Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington.

"I'm not an official or unofficial adviser to anyone," said Bolton, who mentioned he'd had conversations with other Republican candidates but refused to name any names.

Asked to explain Bolton's comments, Huckabee aides said the former Arkansas governor had e-mailed with Bolton. Bolton did not immediately respond to a request to address Huckabee's e-mailing claims.

Huckabee said he'd also spoken with former State Department official Richard Haass (now president of the Council on Foreign Relations); military analyst Ken Allard; former National Security Adviser Richard Allen; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank; and a "number of military personnel."

A Gingrich spokesman said the two men had spoken, on an unofficial basis, on Friday.

Council on Foreign Relations spokeswoman Lisa Shields said Haass has "briefed Huckabee on foreign policy issues as well as [briefing] many other candidates" in both parties. Shields stressed that the relationship was not exclusive and that Haass was not affiliated with the campaign.

Allard, Allen and Gaffney could not be immediately reached for comment.

Huckabee argues that foreign policy is less about experience and more about judgment. "The most important thing a president does is to make tough decisions when confronted with a crisis," he said Friday. "[As a governor], you've dealt with the unexpected, a crisis, time and time again."

The confusion over Bolton, however, is the latest in a growing list of foreign policy hiccups by the Iowa front-runner. And to succeed nationally, Huckabee must broaden support beyond his socially conservative base by proving his competency on issues such as national security.

On Thursday, he commented on the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, saying the U.S. needs to consider "what impact does it have on whether or not there's going to be martial law continuing in Pakistan." Martial law, as it turns out, was lifted two weeks ago.

Huckabee clarified the point later that day. "What I said was, you know, it was not that I was unaware that it was suspended two weeks ago, or lifted two weeks ago. The point was continued: ... Would it be reinstated? Would it be placed back in?" he said.

Huckabee also raised eyebrows Thursday when he said that Bhutto's death should prompt "an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there's any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country."

And earlier this month, Huckabee said he was unfamiliar with the National Intelligence Estimate reporting that Iran hadn't had a program to develop nuclear weapons since 2003.

Huckabee's lack of foreign policy experience has fueled a host of critics. On Thursday, rival Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Bhutto's assassination highlights Huckabee's lack of foreign policy experience.

"You know, I don't think it's appropriate to respond in political way," Huckabee said.

Last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denounced Huckabee's critique of the Bush administration as having a "bunker mentality" when it comes to foreign policy.

"The idea that somehow this is a go-it-alone policy is just simply ludicrous," she said at a State Department news conference. "One would only have to be not observing the facts, let me say that, to say that this is now a go-it-alone foreign policy."

TM & © THE POLITICO & POLITICO.COM, a division of Allbritton Communications Company

Posted by: manwaringjd | December 28, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Good thing neither one of them would accept the other's second spot -- just like Hillary will never accept a second spot -- I could see Obama accepting the second spot from Hillary though. I wonder if it's too late for that?

Brokered convention, here we come!!!

Posted by: JakeD | December 28, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Edwards is surging!

Edwards is the man!

Edwards/Obama is a winning ticket!

Inspiring too!

Posted by: river845 | December 28, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

JayMax and cmss1:

It's always "close" before the opening bell!!! Short of something else happening unexpectedly, I'll stand by my prediction.

Anyone else want to discuss possible V.P. choices for Hillary?

Posted by: JakeD | December 28, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

New Research 2000 Iowa poll just came out - Obama 29%, Edwards 29%, Clinton 28%.

It couldn't be closer, though six days still feels like an eternity.

Posted by: cmss1 | December 28, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

After Iowa, the Jezebel Effect must be given proper attribution.

The Jezebel Effect (the evil Bible Queen in 2Kings9) will subtract 7-11% of Hillary's stated poll results due to voter disconfort that Hillary is evil.

The WashPo stumbled unknowingly across this phenomena in the Broder/Balz article on December 15, 2007 in which a focus group member is quoted as finding Hillary evil.

Posted by: JaxMax | December 28, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Here's my prediction:

Clinton wins Iowa, Biden comes from way behind to place second, and either Obama or Edwards to show -- as I said before, Obama will never be sworn in as President on January 20, 2009 -- best he can hope for now is Vice-President (but it seems he's pissed off the Clinton camp too much for that -- has anyone thought about the possibility of BILL Clinton for V.P.?).

Posted by: JakeD | December 28, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

It's officially a "horse race".

Posted by: JakeD | December 28, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

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