With only one week to go, money doesn’t matter right now. All the campaign events have been scheduled, all the staff has been hired, and all of the ad buys have been purchased. Further, polling in states after New Hampshire don’t matter right now either, since the first two states will scramble everything. All that matters is Iowa, how Iowa will impact New Hampshire, and then how New Hampshire will impact the national scene. With all of that in mind, and in the interest of providing more clarity, here is the only information on the nominations that currently matters:
Democratic Nomination, At a Glance
Now, let’s combine this information with the three questions presented above:
Iowa’s impact on New Hampshire? It is hard for me to imagine a scenario where, if Clinton or Obama wins Iowa, that person does not also win New Hampshire. When it comes to Edwards, with an average Iowa bounce of 11.3% in New Hampshire, and current New Hampshrie deficits of 11.6% and 12.2%, it has become impossible to tell whether or not an Iowa win will translate into a New Hampshire win, too. Right now, Obama must wish that New Hampshire, with its enormous secular electorate, was the first state in the nation, instead of Iowa. If, for some reason, Iowa has no impact on New Hampshire, right now I would favor Obama in the state. as the trendline there is extremely favorable to him.
Iowa and New Hampshire’s impact on the national campaign? According to fladem, the average national swing for a sweep of Iowa and New Hampshire is 33%. This means that if either Clinton or Obama win Iowa, and thus New Hampshire, the nomination almost certainly breaks their way. If Edwards sweeps the two states, then it looks like a close two-way campaign between Edwards and Clinton. If Edwards wins Iowa, and Clinton hangs on to take New Hampshire, then it looks like Clinton wins the nomination. If Edwards wins Iowa, and Obama hangs on to win New Hampshire, then all three should have a good shot and it is anyone’s guess as to what happens next. I have to admit, the political junkie in me is kind of pulling for that result. This is great political theater, and I don’t want it to all end on Thursday night, or even next Tuesday night.
For my part, I’m not making any predictions until I see the final Des Moines Register poll. I will say, however, that I think the Edwards rise in Iowa has slightly improved his chances to win the nomination, but also improved Clinton’s chances to win the nomination. Right now, I say that based on the likelihood of the scenarios I presented above, Clinton has a 60% chance to be the nominee, Obama a 30% chance, and Edwards a 10% chance.
Romney moves back into the lead here. This is because with such a tight national picture, anyone who wins both Iowa and New Hampshire will undoubtedly go on to win the nomination. Romney still leads McCain in New Hampshire, albeit narrowly, and he has also caught up to Huckabee in Iowa. Only Romney can sweep the two early states. Right now, the only thing that can stop Romney appears to be Huckabee in Iowa, but the momentum seems to be entirely with Romney now. Still, if Huckabee wins Iowa, and Romney hangs on in New Hampshire, then it becomes Romney versus Huckabee the rest of the way. McCain’s best chance is to combine a third-place Iowa finish with both a Huckabee win in Iowa and either a Clinton or Edwards Iowa win. If that all falls into place, McCain probably takes New Hampshire, finishes off Romney, and the campaign becomes Huckabee versus McCain the rest of the way.
In terms of odds, based on the scenarios above, I give Romney a 70% chance to be the nominee, Huckabee a 20% chance, and McCain a 10% chance. Basically, right now that is because I expect Romney to win Iowa.