What happened
Barack Obama pulled ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa polls on the eve of the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. In a Des Moines Register poll, Obama was the choice of 32 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers. Clinton garnered 25 percent, and John Edwards 24 percent. (MarketWatch)

What the commentators said
Clinton still narrowly leads most polls, said David Freddoso in National Review Online, but “she will not place first. She may not even place second.” The process allows Democrats to name their second choice as well as their top pick, and Hillary is hardly anybody’s second choice.

If things go badly for Clinton on Thursday, said Roger Simon in The Politico, she may end up wishing she had taken early advice from a top staffer to skip Iowa. The state—whose liberal Democrats have been slow to forgive Clinton for voting for the Iraq war—was always going to be a tough audience, and a poor finish there will definitely get the former first lady’s campaign “off to a bad start.”

Don’t confuse the Iowa caucuses with a true test of the people’s will, said Jeff Greenfield in Slate. The state’s “vaunted” caucuses—especially those of the Democrats—“violate some of the most elemental values of a vibrant and open political process” by discarding “two key elements of an open, fair system: the secret ballot and the one-person-one-vote principle.”