According to some, the focus for the Democrats is now going to be all Iowa, all the time, until January 3. I think that may overstate things, but it does seem as if the Iowa Caucuses will be far more important for the Dems than for the Republicans. Whichever of the big three Dems gets a win here will be given a big boost, whereas there seems to be much less likelihood of a bounce on the Republican side. If Romney wins, well he should, given all the money he has spent here. If he loses, he will be hurt for that same reason, but it is unlikely to be a deadly blow. McCain has not put much effort into the state, apparently because his stance on things like corn subsidies make it a very hard win for him (see this Washington Post article, which includes a quote from one of my colleagues - I do love to bask in reflected fame!). Huckabee needs a win or a second place in Iowa or he will wither on the vine, but he is a long shot at present anyway. Rudy is fighting here, but seems more invested in New Hampshire. And Fred is also here, but not much, and is more invested in South Carolina. So, much less fireworks likely on January 3 on the GOP side than on the Dems.
The uneasiness about Hillary in some quarters continues. The sense that she is trying to manage the press and avoid any embarrassing (or, perhaps more accurately, any worthwhile and pointed) questions is captured here. She has also put together an advert that, according to Howard Kurtz is meant to protect her, or as the "Divine Ms. Althouse" puts it: "How dare you questions her!" A more direct approach against Hillary is taken by Grover Norquist, who is promoting an anti-nepotism amendment to the constitution, specifically to neuter political dynasties.
Of interest in all this is an excellent report in the Telegraph (based in England). Two reporters crossed the USA from Portland Maine to San Diego, and then again from Seattle to Florida, doing a lot of listening on the way, and spending a lot of time in flyover country. Their findings are interesting. Of Hillary, they note:
While we found many people who hated Mrs Clinton, those who loved her were few and far between. Certainly, many said they would vote for her, but the reasons cited tended to be her status as the top Democrat, the fact that she was battle-tested against Republicans and - for some women - the fact that she would be the first female president.
Such support might register in the opinion polls, but could melt away should the former First Lady lose in Iowa. And the frequently expressed nightmare for Democrats is that she will win their party's nomination but lose to a Republican next November when most Americans decide they don't much like her.
"I'm always amazed how we can screw things up," said Steve Ayers, a coffee-shop owner in Hannibal. "Maybe the way we screw it up this time is by nominating Hillary - across the Midwest that would be the only way of unifying Republicans."
The interesting thing here is that this report is probably about as objective as you can get at this point in time. These folks do not have a horse in this race, yet they seem to be indicating that the story in the media is seriously incorrect. They also seem to be saying that this year, as perhaps never before, the field is wide open. That is a continuing theme, and will likely have a great deal more importance than any other factor at this time. Here in Iowa, a lot of folk will be going to the caucuses without their final decisions having been made.
And just to further confound conventional wisdom, there is now a report out that the Democrats, and not the GOP, are the party of the rich. What impact, if any, this will have is unknown...