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Posted by on Dec 25, 2007 in Politics | 9 comments

Dump New Conventional Wisdom: Poll Gives Clinton Big Lead In Iowa

It looks like it’s that time again….and not just Christmas time.

It looks like it’s time to deep-six the latest conventional wisdom and get ready for a new one. After weeks of sagging polls, political missteps, and problems stemming from personal attacks by apparent surrogates on Democratic Senator Barack Obama, a new poll shows New York Senator Hillary Clinton is pulling way ahead as the Iowa caucuses’ date comes closer:

A stunning new Iowa poll seems to show the New York senator with an apparent double-digit lead over her nearest rival among likely Democratic caucus goers, with voting just over a week away.

Iowa polling is notoriously difficult because of the unpredictable nature of caucus voting. Still, the Clinton campaign is still sure to view these results as an early Christmas gift: she and Barack Obama were neck-and-neck in last week’s American Research Group poll. In the new ARG survey, conducted December 20-23, she leads the Illinois senator by 15 percentage points, 34 to 19 percent. Obama is now in a statistical tie for second place with John Edwards, who has 20 percent of the vote.

If this holds and Clinton wins, the pundits will have a field day analyzing how the sagging polls were turned around. One thing seems clear: Obama either started to fail to make his case or the Clinton camp successfully raised his negatives enough to defuse his threat (if this poll reflects the final vote):

Obama seems to have lost ground among male voters: last week, he led the field with 27 percent support, followed by 21 for Clinton and 19 for Edwards. This week, the leaders are Clinton and Edwards, with 28 and 27 percent support among Democratic men. Obama has 16 percent support, and Joe Biden has 11 percent.

Similarly, the other huge story, on the Republican front, was that Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was coming on strong. But after being in the media spotlight and an aide picking a fight with Republican icon talk show host Rush Limbaugh — and Limbaugh blasting Huckabee and his camp — Huckabee seems to be deflating as the caucus day approaches.

As Hillary Clinton appears to be breaking away from the pack, the Republican race may be tightening up: just a few days after Mike Huckabee appeared to lead Mitt Romney by an 11-point margin among likely Republican caucus goers, the two are back in a statistical tie, 23 to 21 percent. John McCain has 17 percent of the vote, Rudy Giuliani has 14 percent — and Ron Paul has 10 percent in the latest poll, up from 4 percent last week.

Huckabee’s loss may also be attributed to male voters. Last week, he had 31 percent support among Republican men; this week, he and Rudy Giuliani are tied at 20 percent. John McCain and Mitt Romney both have the support of 17 percent of the GOP’s likely male caucus goers.

So get ready to throw away the old conventional wisdom — if other polls confirm this finding. And then there will be a new conventional wisdom — which itself could be tossed away due to developments or polling trends closer to January 3rd.

The reality is: this is a highly-fluid election year. A lingering question: if this poll is indicative of what other polls will find and the final vote will reflect, does this provide yet more proof that going negative is the way to go?

The Clinton and Romney campaigns were losing some steam but, once they went negative, new polling results showed a remarkable turn-around.

But is that the real reason? In recent days Edwards and Obama have been battling it out and perhaps they raised each others’ negatives so much that Clinton benefited.

Stay tuned to see if this poll is just “a poll” or the tip of a new trend iceberg.