Wide Open Iowa

Mark and I have spoken privately about our predictions for Iowa, and a couple weeks ago, I said I think it could end up going Edwards, Clinton, then Obama. Mark and I have generally been at odds over how Iowa will turn out for the Democrats, but a new poll now shows Edwards on top, with Clinton and Obama not far behind makes me think that my prediction wasn’t too far out there.

Let me explain why I believe, at this point, that not only will Edwards come out on top, but that Obama will do surprisingly poor, in the same way that Howard Dean did back in 2004.

I watched some of the Iowa Caucuses in 2004, and the one thing that seemed to stick out in my mind was the common question everyone was asking: “Who can beat George W. Bush?” With no incumbent this cycle, the question I expect caucus-goers to be asking is “Who can win in the general election?” And I expect that most will not give “Barack Obama” as the answer. In 2004 Iowa Democrats made the strategic decision to bank their hopes on capturing the presidency on John Kerry. John Kerry had run a terrible campaign up to that point — and even had to loan himself a huge chunk of money to keep himself afloat at one point — but with the war on terror as the primary issue, it seemed logical to pick someone who served in Vietnam (albeit very briefly) and had a bit more experience than a governor of a small state who sealed his own records and appeals to the far light liberal bloggers.

If electability is as important to Iowa Democrats in 2008 as it was in 2004, then I wouldn’t count on Obama coming out on top. Obama’s inexperience is a huge problem for him. And, let’s face it, if liberals really believe that this country is racist, then how could they believe that Obama has a chance to win the General Election?

And how about Hillary? Aside from her past support for the war in Iraq, there is no one more polarizing and controversial than her. Still, I believe Democrats would consider her more electable than Barack Obama.

Democrats can claim all they want that there will be a blowout in 2008, but many factors will drive turnout on both sides, and I’m still thinking that this election will be close like the previous two.

The real thing we get out of this new poll is that Iowa is wide open. In the past few weeks and months, all of the top three Democrat contenders have come out on top of an Iowa poll. In the end, it can go either way. This latest poll strengthens my belief that Edwards can win Iowa.

So anyway, not too long ago I asked our readers for predictions about Iowa. Any revisions to past predictions? Any new predictions?

UPDATE: Strengthening the foundation for my prediction again… QandO points us to a story that says Democrats are worried about the electability of their nominee.