Time Iowa Poll:
When Field is limited to top four candidates:
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007
Edwards On Track in Iowa
John Edwards is betting that a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses will catapult him into national contention, and so far his strategy in the state is on track. A new TIME poll of likely Iowa caucus goers, taken a week after Edwards' seven-day, 31-stop bus tour of the state, gives Edwards 29% of the vote, five points ahead of Hillary Clinton and seven ahead of Barack Obama. This latest TIME Poll of 519 likely Iowa Democratic caucus goers finds that, among the so-called "second-tier" candidates, Bill Richardson has 11%, with Joe Biden at 5%, Dennis Kucinich with 2%, and Chris Dodd at 1%. (The Poll was conducted August 22 ? 25, 2007. The margin of error is approximately +/- 5 percentage points.)
With the field limited to the top four candidates, Edwards's lead over Clinton widens, to 32% to 24%. Obama was at 22%, with Bill Richardson at 13%. Iowa polls can be unreliable, since only 5% to 10% of voters go to the caucuses; some other recent surveys have Edwards in a dead heat with Clinton and Obama. The race remains wide open, but Edwards's position remains strong.
For Edwards, the poll has some less welcome news as well. So far, at least, his attempts to portray himself as the real change agent in the race — the one who wants to slam the door on lobbyists and other "Washington insiders" — isn't paying off. Obama beats him by 35% to 25% on the question of who "will take on special interests in Washington." (Clinton trailed with 19%.) Iowa Democrats seem to like Edwards more for who he is than for what he says; they call him the "most likable" and the one who best understands their concerns, but his toss-out-the-insiders message hasn't stuck.
Iowa caucus goers see strengths and weaknesses in each candidate. Among the top four candidates:
* Likeability: Edwards (32%) and Obama (30%) lead as "most likeable." Clinton finishes last, at 12%, just below Bill Richardson (16%).
* Strongest Leadership: Clinton holds a commanding lead over Edwards and Obama, 36% - 23% - 20%. Richardson (9%) trails badly on leadership.
* Handling of Iraq: Clinton (27%) leads Obama (19%), Edwards (18%) and Richardson (16%).
* Protecting Against Terrorism: Clinton leads the field by a wide margin, picked by 27%, compared to Edwards, at 19%, Obama at 15%, and Richardson at 14%.