Feature

Clinton takes Iowa lead

Sen. Hillary Clinton has overtaken former North Carolina senator John Edwards as the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in Iowa, which holds its first-in-the-nation caucus in three months. Clinton's lead is too slim for her to ta

What happened
Sen. Hillary Clinton has overtaken former North Carolina senator John Edwards as the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in Iowa, which holds its first-in-the-nation caucus in three months. The Des Moines Register—the state’s largest newspaper—released poll results Sunday showing that 29 percent of Iowans expected to participate in the Democratic caucus preferred Clinton, with 23 percent backing Edwards and 22 favoring Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

What the commentators said
If Clinton expects the primary process to be a coronation, said Mark Halperin in Time.com, she can’t take Iowa for granted. Her lead is slim, and the vote is near. And all three of the leaders have weaknesses—some Iowa voters see Clinton as “polarizing,” Obama as inexperienced, and Edwards as too fond of “expensive haircuts” to be the champion of the middle class.

Obama won’t give up Iowa without a fight, said Michael Saul in the New York Daily News. He has spent more money and time in the state than any of his rivals, and Edwards has made himself a fixture in the state’s rural areas. “For Edwards and Obama, a loss in Iowa is most likely fatal—and their campaigns have admitted as much.”

Clinton may soon wish she were the underdog, said David Yepsen in a Des Moines Register blog. In Iowa caucus fights, “the key to success is beating the expectations of the political community for how you’ll do on caucus night,” so the state is a minefield for front-runners. “If they win now, it may be shrugged off as no big deal because everyone ‘expected’ it would happen. If they come in second or third, it will be pegged as a big loss.”

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