Caucus Predictions: A Fool’s Errand, but Popular Nonetheless

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Fred Barnes on Fox News just predicted that Obama will best Clinton tonight, and that because of Clinton’s formerly inevitable status, it will make worldwide news. That’s a courageous move by Barnes only because making any predictions today is risky—any of the top three Democrats could win and either Romney or Huckabee could take the Republican race. I’m going to chicken out/be completely honest and admit that I have no real idea what’s going to happen. I think the Des Moines Register‘s last poll will be correct enough to give Obama a slight win, but let’s not put that in print or on a blog or anything. And I think Romney’s long-established and well-financed turnout machine will give the former MA governor the win over Huckabee and his still-nascent campaign. But again, I’m not going to stand by that. Aren’t you glad I’m here?

Let’s take a look around the punditocracy and see what the predictions are of those a little ballsier than I.

Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics has this to say:

I’ll be shocked if Barack Obama doesn’t win. In fact, I think he’s potentially sitting on a very big win. He seems to have upward momentum in the polls, his crowds are huge, and his message appears to still be connecting with voters and there is no indication that he’s experiencing an erosion of support in the final hours of the campaign. In other words, all the signs are pointing to a strong finish for Obama.

As I’ve said before, that will open the door for him to run the table on Clinton in the early states, especially if she finishes third – which I think she might. I’m hesitant to underestimate the Clinton people or their organizing ability, but from what I can tell she has nowhere near the enthusiasm in her campaign or among her supporters to match Edwards or Obama….

On the Republican side, the two-man race is literally a coin flip. My sense is the campaigns themselves believe it is so close it could go either way. Romney appears to have the better organization, but the polls say Huckabee has the more committed supporters.

Tom Schaller at the American Prospect:

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Democrat Hillary Clinton might still win this thing in Iowa, and that Mitt Romney is even more likely than she is to hold on for the Republican victory.

I’m much less confident about the Clinton prediction, so let me start with her. First, there’s no doubt that we’re going to see a turnout surge, and that’s probably bad news for John Edwards. So the question becomes whether it’s a major surge (good for Obama) or a smaller one (good for Clinton)…. I just don’t think all of those young people and other newbies Obama is counting on will be there at the rates they expect….

I still just don’t see how the Huckabee team converts their late momentum and buzz into caucus support. The Huckabee operation is spartan and under-organized compared to Romney and his gobs of money, and to admit that fact and then turnaround and predict Huckabee wins is to reject all the conventional wisdom for the Republican race that is simultaneously being applied to the Democratic race.

There were rumors that both Biden and Richardson were going throw their second-choice support to Obama, as Kucinich did. That would make an Obama win a lot more likely. But both the Delaware Senator and the New Mexico Governor have denied that that’s the case.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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