I don't know if polls where they include tenths of percents are really superior in terms of prognosticating power, but they are more immediately impressive to the credulous observer (me):
On the Democratic side, there is a three-way statistical tie with Sen. Hillary Clinton leading with 30.7% support, followed by Sen. Barack Obama at 26.8% and John Edwards at 24.2%. The poll's margin of error is 3.3%.
Key finding: Edwards is the clear second choice favorite with 30.4%, followed by Obama at 24.9% and Clinton at 12.2%. According to Democratic caucus rules, candidates who receive less than 15% of the vote are considered "non-viable." Their backers have the choice of either going home or casting their ballots for their second choice.
One interesting finding: Democrats think Republicans will choose Huckabee as their nominee; Republicans think Democrats will choose Obama.
Both emphases mine. So, given that all the methodology is suspect and the weather is a total wild-card with the potential to wreck any model or hypothesis, here's what we see:
- At best, Hillary Clinton is the first choice of about 31 percent of this sample. She's the first or second choice of 42.9. By contrast, Edwards is the first- or second choice for 54.6 percent. Obama is the first or second choice of 51.7 percent. Hillary is the third (at best) choice of 57.1 percent, the same numbers are 45.4 percent for Edwards and 48.3 percent for Obama.
- The voters for the other party, an interestingly subjective audience, feel Obama and Huckabee would be the other party's nominees. This is obviously open to interpretation, but one thing it could mean is that the most voters from the other party would be open to supporting Obama or Huckabee in November if the other party nominates them.
- The fact that so many Republicans nationally still seem to think Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, yet their Iowa co-partisans disagree, suggests that the race really looks different when more people are paying close attention--probably another indication of how meaningless Clinton's national polling leads continue to be.
My nightmare scenario from a freakin' year ago--that Clinton is a plurality "victor" but by far the least broadly supported Democrat even within the Dem primary electorate--continues to look plausible if not likely. Remove either Obama or Edwards from this race and Not-Hillary would triumph; with them both dividing that title, she might squeak through.