The new Zogby poll out of Iowa shows what is essentially a 4-way tie. Kerry, Dean, and Gephardt are all at about 21 percent, while Edwards is at 17 percent, but still in the margin of error. The race is obviously very fluid, but keep an eye on Edwards. He got the DM Register endorsement last Sunday and this has a big impact. In 1988, the Register endorsed Paul Simon, fueling a last minute surge by his campaign. Yes, he lost, but my recollection is that he picked up around 10 points in a week. Also, did he really lose? VNS dropped the ball so we don't know the real results. I still get mad thinking about it (see my earlier post eulogizing Paul Simon).
Anyway, Edwards not only has the Register endorsement, but the other candidates seem to be intent on cutting each other to pieces, particularly Gephardt vs. Dean, and Dean vs. everybody, including some poor guy from Olewein.
This last point shouldn't be discounted. Iowans take their caucuses and civility very seriously, and by lashing out at a man who admonished Dean to "love they neighbor" by criticizing Bush less, Dean might have done some real damage to himself. In fact, I don't think his drop in the polls over the last few days is unrelated to this event. (As an aside, Dean responded, "Bush isn't my neighbor." Talk about Biblical literalism!)
Then there's the "sickness" factor. I grew up in Iowa and my parents still live there, so believe me when I tell you that potential caucus-goers get sick of all the ads, phone calls, surveys, canvassers, etc. Dean, Gephardt, and Kerry are nearly omnipresent in the state. Yes, they have to do this, but at some point the return on their efforts diminish to zero or less. Since Edwards hasn't been quite as visible, he might benefit from any backlash against the other candidates.
Finally, there's the old adage about how to win the caucuses--organize, organize, organize, and then get hot at the end. Edwards (and perhaps Kerry) are the only candidates who seem to be getting the least bit hot.