I still think it’s a little early to be worrying about polls for the 2008 presidential election, but KCCI television in Des Moines, Iowa, doesn’t. Of course, Iowa is famously a bellwether state, so I won’t argue with the folks at the Des Moines CBS affiliate.
Their latest poll numbers show good news for former Senator John Edwards, who leads among Democrats with 27%, up a point from the May poll. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both slipped six points to 22% and 16% respectively, and the former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, broke double digits, up four to 11%.
KCCI political analyst Dennis Goldford pointed out that Edwards has spent a lot of time campaigning in Iowa, but wonders whether the payoff can be sustained. Edwards, for his part, told a Des Moines crowd on Thursday that, “what’s going to matter, ultimately, to caucusgoers in Iowa is who’s ready to be president.”
Perhaps the slip for Clinton and Obama reflects the tone of their recent shootout over the Iraq War and other foreign policy issues. Much as the media’s attention has focused on the New York and Illinois senators, so, too, do their campaigns get my nomination for lame responses to the poll:
“Polling for the caucuses is a very difficult thing to do, as you know. I think, like I said, you’re going to see polls that show us ahead and polls that show us behind. We feel really good that we’re polling as strongly as we are, but we know that we’ve got a lot of work in the next six months,” said Mark Daley of the Clinton campaign.
“Barack is starting to emerge as the Democratic candidate who would be the strongest candidate in the general election,” said Josh Earnest of the Obama campaign.
Richardson, on the other hand, remains upbeat, telling a Thursday gathering at Pleasant Hill, “I’m not a rock star. I don’t have their money, but I’m out working.” Perhaps taking his cue from Edwards, he plans to spend more time working Iowa.
On the Republican side, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leads the pack, up nine points to 25%, the largest shift charted in this poll. He is followed by non-candidate Fred Thompson at 14%, and Rudy Giuliani, who slipped four points to 13%. Arizona Senator John McCain’s implosion continues with the second largest shift in the poll, down eight points to 10%.
It should be noted that the undecided responses among Democrats equals Obama’s share at 16%. Republican undecided responses, at 22%, surpassed all but Mitt Romney.
As analyst Goldford pointed out, “Republicans overall have not been as happy with their field of candidates at this point.”
In the head-to-head, “If the election were held today,” figures, Edwards and Obama are the big winners among Democrats. Edwards scored 43% against Giuliani’s 37%, while Clinton drew a slightly smaller edge at 41%. Obama would top Giuliani 45-36; Edwards scored 45-36 against Romney, and 45-27 against Fred Thompson.
About the only definitive suggestion made by the poll about the candidates is that the Democrats are not nearly as weak as the GOP would like voters to believe. After all, Iowa caucus, set for the middle of January, is still over five months away.
Which means, of course, that we get to look forward to another five and a half months of poll results. Are you excited? No? I can’t imagine why.