Salon.com columnist Walter Shapiro has been around Washington and political campaigns for decades, here's what he's seeing on the ground in Iowa:
At this point in 2004, just a few days before the caucuses, I had begun to pick up anecdotal evidence (from crowd size and interviews with likely caucus-goers) that Howard Dean was slipping and John Kerry and John Edwards were surging. But this time around, I have not seen or heard anything that prompts me to move away from the conventional wisdom that Obama, Clinton and Edwards are locked in a three-way tie.Shapiro sees a dead heat in the Democratic Iowa caucus, but he also has uncovered some interesting nuggets.
While traveling with the Edwards campaign, Shapiro found the former senator's base is solidly in his corner, largely due to his time and organization in Iowa.
Sen. Barack Obama's popularity is hinged upon students caucusing faithfully for him. This, if true, might make the seven-point lead in today's Des Moines Register as tenuous. Rarely, does the youth vote make for a successful campaign, but that's not to say Sen. Obama is candidate many have ever seen.
Sen. Hillary Clinton's much derided brigade of Golden Girls are also a problematic demographic not because of their likelihood of caucusing, but because of health and weather. Shapiro does make this interesting point on Sen. Clinton, her constituentcy is either with her or against her, therefore unlikely to gain any new support.
Of all the polling out there, the safest bet is Hillary reaching a ceiling of only 25 percent of the caucus goers making the possibility of her finishing a very disappointing third.
If this happens, it will a clear indictment of whom Iowans believe is the real candidate of change--Obama and Edwards.