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November 20, 2007

ABC's The Note: As Obama Rises In Iowa, Hillary Inevitable No More

Damnit. Iowans, do your job. As Hillary Clinton herself said in the 2004 election: "You don't have to fall in love. You just have to fall in line."

Ladies and gentleman, we have ourselves a race.

Toss out the 30-point lead in the national polls, the fundraising edge, the long list of endorsements, the bold predictions of Terry McAuliffe, Mark Penn, even Bill Clinton himself.

The new ABC News/Washington Post poll has Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., up on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., in Iowa -- really in a statistical tie in the state where they could be playing for all the marbles. It's Obama 30, Clinton 26, and former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., 22 -- setting up a three-way scramble for the top spot in a state that's notoriously difficult to call in advance.

The worrisome signs for Clinton aren't so much in Obama's movement (and her lack thereof) as they are inside the numbers.

"A growing focus on fresh ideas coupled with lingering doubts about Hillary Clinton's honesty and forthrightness are keeping the Democratic presidential contest close in Iowa," ABC polling director Gary Langer reports.

"Most Democratic likely voters in Iowa, 55 percent, say they're more interested in a 'new direction and new ideas' than in strength and experience, compared with 49 percent in July -- a help to Obama, who holds a substantial lead among 'new direction' voters," Langer continues.

The comparable number favoring "strength and experience" is 33 percent.

If Iowa isn't quite a must-win for all of the Democrats, it is a must-not-let-Hillary win for all who would presume to interrupt the Bush-Clinton-Bush chain.

"Iowa Democrats are tilting toward change, and Obama appears to be benefiting from it," the Post's Anne Kornblut and Jon Cohen write.

"While about three-quarters credited both Obama and Edwards with speaking their mind on issues, only 50 percent said Clinton is willing enough to say what she really thinks," they write.

In addition, 74% of Iowans agreed that Hillary's pantsuits make her look "hip-y.'

MORE [Gabe]: This is good news for a few reasons. Most obviously, all three contenders will have to spend more time and money in Iowa. That's money that they won't be spending elsewhere.

Of more importance, to my mind, is that the candidates are going to get a whole lot nastier to each other. A lot of time has been spent running against the Bush Administration because that's what Leftist primary voters want to hear. Now each candidate has to spend more time distinguishing him or herself from the others; and that leads to mudslinging and sweet public squabbles.

As far as Clinton goes, we've been watching her campaign get more antagonistic for the past few weeks. I expect this poll will make them even quicker to jump on the media and the other candidates.


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posted by Ace at 01:09 PM

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