In order to help predict how Iowa will turn out, we can examine each candidate’s trends. Democrats first, Republicans next.
Real Clear Politics has a chart here that I’ll be referring to…
It shows that Biden (now at 5%) is steadily trending upwards, having started at basically nothing. He is predicting a 15% finish, and would get decent media attention if he could somehow pull that off…
His bump may have come from Richardson (now at 5%), who has seen a drop off from his September high of 12%. Look for Richardson to remain at that 5% level, since it hard to fall any further than that.
Edwards (26%) is enjoying a resurgence since his November low of 19%. His voters will probably see that either Hillary or Obama will eventually win, and will inevitably do one of two things: they could decide to abandon him in favor of their next preference, or, since they are likely to be long-time Edwards supporters (he’s practically been campaigning there for 4 years) they could stick it out to the bitter end. I have no idea which is more likely.
As I warned earlier, Obama’s Oprah boost is beginning to fade. He had a month long high of 30% when she first started campaigning for him, but he may have peaked too soon, as he’s now fallen back to around 26%. Thats not a huge drop off in most cases, but this time around, it can mean the difference between 1st and 3rd place.
Lastly, Hillary has managed to return to her pre-Oprah numbers after a rough month in the polls. She has risen from a month-long low of 26% to her current 29%. This may lend some credence to my speculation that Obama peaked early and should have reserved his media star for later in the campaign.