Just -in-time Blogging: Mark Blumenthal has an impressive number of useful things to say about Iowa polling in his exhaustive braindump. Note especially a) he casts aspersions on the Des Moines Register'stwo-day rolling trendline; b) but if Obama wins and the DMR poll is vindicated, many of the things other candidates' aides have said may take on a new meaning:
What if an influx of first-time caucus goers propels Obama to a modest victory margin? Given their spin yesterday, it will be quite a challenge for the other campaigns to shrug it off as an inconsequential result they saw coming all along. Now, if Obama wins with the help of a wave of caucus newcomers, it's not just a "win," it's an "unprecedented departure," a result "at odds with history," perhaps even a "revolution."
Heed the Undernews! Just a note to the tiny unrepresentative minority of Iowa voters who are going to participate in the Democratic caucus later today: If you want to vote for a Democrat who will actually make it to the White House, you have to think not only about their issue positions and their rhetorical skills and their personality but also about the scandals that might surface, even distasteful scandals you'd rather dismiss. This concern would be a subset of the oft-mentioned "electability" issue. You obviously don't want to pick someone the GOPs might blow out of the water in late August, right after he or she gets the nomination.
If you read this blog you know I think John Edwards is facing an unaddressed (or insufficiently addressed) potential scandal in the person of Rielle Hunter, about whom the National Enquirer has made some sensational allegations and about whom the Edwards camp has behaved very strangely. (Relevant denials included in the second Enquirer link.) I'm not worried that this scandal will surface in August after the convention. I think the scandal will surface in a matter of days or weeks should Edwards win in Iowa. Right now the MSM is giving him a pass because--hey, why bring it up and hurt his wife if he's going to lose anyway.
Because he's gotten a pass, Edwards has had weeks to figure out the best way to defuse any press coverage--or, if any of the accusations prove to be accurate, how to play them, The worry, then, is that Edwards might stave off a scandal effectively enough to get the nomination from the sympathetic party faithful, but be a far weaker general election candidate for it.
(I admit, I also think he'd be a terrible president. He can give an effective, heart-tugging closing argument. If governing were a trial, he'd be a good bet--though he did manage to lose a debate with Dick Cheney in 2004. But is there any evidence he actually knows how to run a large, bureaucratic organization? Some of his ideas, like his fake-tough plan to demand that congressmen give up their own health plan if they don't support his universal plan, suggest he either doesn't know where the federal government's pressure points are or else he's cynically trying to fool equally clueless voters. I vote for 'cynical fooling,' but either way, the idea that President Edwards will actually be able to enact a big national health insurance plan seems a little far-fetched to me--even compared to the also-inexperienced Obama and the mal-experienced Mrs. Clinton.. If Edwards does somehow talk his way into the White House, I think the public will see through him--and he'll be ineffective--within six months.. ...
But even if you disagree with this analysis, Rielle Hunter is a potential problem to consider! Please read the Enquirer story and decide if you think the semi-official pro-Edwards line about who is the father, etc. seems convincing to you, despite it's contradictions. I don't trust the Enquirer, but they've gotten some big stories right in the past.)
I have faith that you will make the right decision. ... Actually, no. I have zero faith that you will make the right decision. You thought Kerry was electable! Iowa caucusers have a track record as miserable judges of political horseflesh. I'm counting on New Hampshire, a real primary where more than a super-motivated minority actually does the deciding. ... 12:08 A.M. link
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