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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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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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