Today the clock starts for the one-month countdown to the January 3 Iowa Caucuses. A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released over the weekend provides a snapshot of the race among Republicans and Democrats. Perhaps Barack Obama knew the winds were shifting back in mid-November when he led a rally in Des Moines, asking supporters if they were "Fired Up" and "Ready to Go."
Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed by the newspaper backed Barack Obama, who by this Sunday had adopted the language of a frontrunner. "Folks from some of the other campaigns are reading the polls and starting to get stressed and issuing a whole range of outlandish accusations," Obama said.
Hillary Clinton was in the second-place position in that Iowa Poll, perhaps the reason for her jabs at Obama recently and her vow to "turn up the heat." "If you will stand for me for a night, I will stand and fight for you every day in this campaign and every day in the White House," Clinton told Iowa Democrats at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in November.
The poll showed John Edwards within striking distance and in the closing days Edwards isn’t railing against his rivals so much as he’s railing against corporations. "I think we have a fight on our hands. We have an epic fight on our hands and we’d better be ready for it," Edwards said.
The political reality of the latest "Iowa Poll" means Democrats in the back of the pack, like Chris Dodd, aren’t pulling any punches either. "I know there are people who talk about turning up the heat…or firing people up. We’ve got to tone things down a bit, in my view, in this country here," Dodd said Saturday at the Brown, Black Forum. "We need to understand that we’ve got to come together as a people here."
Among Republicans, meanwhile, the Register’s poll showed things seem to be coming together for Mike Huckabee, who garnered the most support in the poll with 29 percent. In late October, Huckabee moved more staff into Iowa for the run up to January 3, 2008. "I’m confident that by the Caucus Night we will be in good shape and have a great night here," Huckabee said back on October 27.
Mitt Romney had been the frontrunner in most Iowa polls and Huckabee’s surge as the Caucus campaign closes may be why Romney said this during a Radio Iowa interview back on October 31st. "I don’t know whether I’m going to come out first, second or third, but I think I’ll come out somewhere in that grouping and hope I get the kind of support I need to bolster my campaign to receive the nomination," Romney said.
Romney announced on Sunday that he will deliver an address this Thursday about "Faith in America" as Romney’s Mormon religion has been an issue for some Evangelical Christians who are active in the Republican Party.