Illinois Senator Barack Obama and ex-Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards lead the field for the all-important support of Democratic Iowa caucus voters, according to a new poll by KCCI-TV released earlier this week (the poll has a margin of error of +/- 5.0 points).
Edwards, who has campaigned continuously in Iowa during the past few years, could only eke out a tie at 22% with the junior senator from Illinois. The momentum demonstrated by Obama's unofficial campaign, is perhaps the bigger story coming out of this poll than Hillary Clinton's disappointing 10%. Tim Vilsack (12%) came in third place, and is the only candidate in the field who has announced his candidacy other than Dennis Kucinich (4%).
Poll-watchers no doubt are intrigued by these results, but consider the 2004 Election to see just how much things can change in campaigns as well as the minds of Iowa voters in just a year. In one of the first polls conducted by KCCI-TV for that election (March 2003), Richard Gephardt led the field with 22%, only to receive half that support (11%) and land in fourth place on the day of the caucus some ten months later.
On the other side, Howard Dean polled at just 6% back in March 2003—good for only 5th place, and well behind Joe Lieberman (16%), who didn't even campaign in Iowa. On Caucus Day in 2004, Dean had amassed 18% of the Democratic vote (and had been polling even higher until a poor last week of the Iowa campaign), and Lieberman received 0%.
Edwards quadrupled his support from 2003 to 2004, from 8% in the early poll to a very strong 32% in the January Caucus. The fresh-faced Edwards, who was a media darling in 2004, is no doubt fearing that Obama, several years his junior, is the new Edwards.