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Final Iowa Polls Released Today

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Two final polls of Iowans were released today—with mixed results on the Democratic side and Mike Huckabee the consensus leader for the GOP.

For the Democrats, Zogby's tracking poll conducted December 30 through January 2 finds Barack Obama leading with 31 percent, John Edwards in second at 27 percent, and Hillary Clinton in third with 24 percent. This marks a shift in the Zogby poll from just a half-week ago, when it was Clinton at 31 percent, Obama at 27 percent, and Edwards at 24 percent. The media would certainly have a field day if Clinton places third in Iowa, even in a close three-way race.

The final American Research Group (ARG) survey, however, tells a different story: Clinton at 34 percent, Obama at 25 percent, and Edwards at 21 percent. ARG has tracked this race with 17 polls over the past 13 months, and has reported Clinton in the lead in 15 of them (losing out to Obama in late November and Edwards in April).

Many pundits are predicting an Obama victory, though an equal number are shying away from making any prediction. While Edwards has now failed to poll on top in 42 of the last 43 surveys of Iowans, Smart Politics outlined in our January 2nd entry several reasons why the former Senator could emerge the victor later tonight.

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee leads in both polls released today. The numbers:

Zogby
Huckabee = 31%
Romney = 25%
Thompson = 11%
Paul = 10%
McCain = 10%
Giuliani = 6%
Hunter = 1%
No opinion = 6%

ARG
Huckabee = 29%
Romney = 24%
Thompson = 13%
McCain = 11%
Giuliani = 8%
Paul = 6%
Hunter = 4%
Keyes = 1%
No opinion = 4%

Beyond the headlines tonight, watch for who comes in third; Ron Paul, who raised an astonishing 20 million in the 4th quarter of 2007, is surging and is expected to get out the vote among his supporters. A third-place finish for Paul will create an uproar over Fox News' decision to exclude him (and all candidates not polling in double-digits nationally) to their upcoming debate this weekend. Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson have already been invited by Fox to participate, and a Paul victory over two or possibly three of them tonight would even further rally Paul's growing army.

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