Is the 'Clinton machine' at last paying dividends in Iowa? The answer to that question is still unknown according to three new polls of Iowans released today.
Clinton's strongest support in Iowa to date has come from the Democratic base, with independents breaking to Barack Obama and John Edwards. Democrats will likely outnumber independents by at least a 4:1 margin on Thursday night, so if Clinton maintains a healthy plurality of the Democratic base, she has reason to be optimistic.
In the CNN poll of 543 likely voters, Clinton leads the pack with 33 percent—2 points ahead of Obama and 11 points ahead of Edwards.
In the Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll of 925 likely voters, Clinton has a 4-point lead over Obama (30-26 percent), with Edwards just 5 points back at 25 percent.
In the Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll of 800 likely voters, it is Obama on top with 32 percent, followed by Clinton at 25 percent and Edwards at 24 percent. The Register's recent track record of gauging voter support heading into the caucus is good: in its last poll before the mid-January 2004 caucuses, the paper correctly projected the Kerry-Edwards-Dean-Gephardt finish reflected in the final results in that competitive four-way race. None of the other polling organizations that released surveys at that time (Zogby, SurveyUSA, and KCCI-TV / Research 2000) correctly projected this order.
Look for a few more polls to come out on Wednesday, and stay tuned to Smart Politics on caucus night for updated results and analysis.