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Edwards Tops Iowa Independent Democratic Power Rankings

Adam Howard: While the media goes ga-ga for Hillary and Obama, Edwards is quietly gaining momentum in Iowa.
 
 
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While the mainstream press hammers away constantly on its Hillary vs. Barack, Barack or Hillary narrative, John Edwards has consistently and quietly maintained a strong presence at or near the top of the Iowa caucus polls. Now a new analysis from the Iowa Independent should give those that support his campaign a new reason to celebrate.

They have put together "power rankings" of all the Democratic candidates based on impression they received from "activists, everyday caucus-goers, event attendees and pundits" based on the candidates' field organization, turnout likelihood, as well as their emotional intuitive impressions of the Democratic field. Despite widespread reports that Hillary is on top with Obama closing fast. The Iowa Independent finds Edwards best positioned to win.

They say if the Democratic caucuses held tonight the results would be:

1. John Edwards -- Edwards started about a year ago with the best organization in Iowa, and most of the foundation he built here is still in place. Although concerns persist that his sharpening rhetoric may be alienating a few of his earliest supporters, his solid performance at the Jefferson Jackson dinner, his endorsement from Caucus 4 Priorities (and the potential 10,000 caucus-goers it could bring him), and his ongoing commitment to retail politicking keep him in the top spot -- for now.

2. Barack Obama -- Obama's organization was fairly inconsistent over the summer, with some counties getting a lot of attention and others getting barely any. Still, his campaign's ability to build crowds -- as evidenced by his huge and geographically diverse group of supporters at the Jefferson Jackson dinner -- are as good a measure of his strength as anything. And as Clinton continues to receive sharper attacks from Edwards and subtler attacks from Obama himself, the Illinois Senator could move up in the coming weeks -- particularly on news of his United Auto Workers endorsement. As things stand now, he would still place second behind Edwards.

3. Hillary Clinton -- Different sources tell vastly different stories about the Clinton campaign in Iowa. Some expect it to flop completely, but others point to poll numbers showing Clinton in the top spot among Democratic candidates in Iowa. All that said, her aura of inevitability has been all but shattered by increased criticism over the past few weeks, and she seems to lack significant second choice support. And her latest swing through Iowa highlighted her energy policy, something which may not resonate among working class women, which continues to be her key demographic. Frankly, although the polls show Clinton in first place in Iowa, many of us have been hard pressed to find solid Clinton supporters whose names have not already appeared on a campaign press release.

4. Joe Biden -- Biden's campaign only picked up steam during the late Fall, but one could be led to believe that he planned it that way all along. His list of legislative endorsements (including many in the Democratic leadership) is his greatest strength, because it lends him credibility that others in the so-called second tier do not have. The current situation in Pakistan highlights his foreign policy expertise, which allows him to continue to take ground from Gov. Bill Richardson. And his support comes largely from older Iowans, who are more likely to attend Caucuses than any other group.

Adam Howard is the editor of PEEK.