Adam Nagourney asks, what if Iowa settles nothing?
What if at the end of Thursday, the three leading Democrats — former Senator John Edwards and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama — are separated by a percentage point or two, leaving no one with the clear right of delivering a victory speech (or the burden of conceding)? A number of polls going into the final days have suggested that after all of this, the Democratic caucus on Thursday night could end up more or less a tie.
Good questions. The answer is that the dominant media narrative is the key. We’ll see if a one-point or two-point spread can give off enough of a shine to the “winner” to carry forward into New Hampshire and onward, whereas a five- or six-point win will certainly be huge if one of the candidates can claim victory by that margin. John Kerry won by six percent over John Edwards in 2004, 38 percent to 32 percent, and that catapulted him to a series of primary wins and ultimately the Democractic nomination. Edwards never won a single primary and had to settle for the VP slot.
It’s also worth noting that yesterday’s Des Moines Register poll puts Obama up on Clinton and Edwards by a seven-point margin, 32-25-24. Big Tent Democrat explains, “the DMR Poll nailed the order of the 2004 Iowa Caucus and is easily the most respected Iowa poll. Obama will now be the odds on favorite to win the Iowa Caucuses.”
Basically, a few hundred Iowans could change their minds in the next few days and have a decisive influence on who the nominee will be, thus altering the course of history. For the moment, though, Obama appears the favorite.