Obama edges up in Iowa

It's within the margin of error, but he leads Clinton by four percentage points.

By Tim Grieve
November 20, 2007 5:54PM (UTC)
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When the Washington Post/ABC News poll checked in on Iowa in July, Barack Obama had the support of 27 percent of would-be caucusgoers while Hillary Clinton and John Edwards had 26 percent each.

A new Post/ABC poll released Monday night has Obama with the support of 30 percent of would-be caucusgoers. Clinton is still at 26 percent, and Edwards' support has dropped to 22 percent.


Before going any further, we should note that the new poll has a 4.5-point margin of error, so just about any conclusions that could be drawn from differences between the first poll and the second -- it's a "surge," says Team Obama; will you look at Missouri, says Team Clinton -- have to be viewed through a prism of serious skepticism.

That having been said, there are a few observations worth making about the numbers behind the numbers here.

Gender: Clinton and Obama are running neck-and-neck among women, but Obama has a significant lead among men; he gets support from 28 percent of men while she gets just 19 percent, a number that's lower than Edwards' and not much higher than Bill Richardson's.


Honesty: Roughly three-quarters of likely Iowa caucusgoers say Obama and Edwards are willing to say what they actually think; only 50 percent hold this view about Clinton.

Experience: Likely caucusgoers say that Clinton, Edwards and Richardson all have better experience for the presidency than Obama does, but Clinton's numbers on this point are dropping: Fifty percent said she had the best experience in July; just 38 percent do now.

Second choices: Under Iowa's caucus system, candidates are eliminated from contention if they don't draw the support of 15 percent of caucusgoers, thereby freeing their voters to get behind somebody else. That means second choices can matter, and Obama has a significant advantage over Clinton there. When you combine voters who favor Obama now with those who list him as their second choice, you get to 55 percent. Do the same math with Clinton, and you get only as high as 44 percent.


The rest of the pack: At the risk of being accused of ignoring anyone but the front-runners, let's just say that Iowa voters are pretty much ignoring them, too. Richardson is at 11 percent; Joe Biden is at 4 percent (up from 2 percent in July); Dennis Kucinich is holding steady at 2 percent and Chris Dodd still has 1 percent.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton John Edwards War Room