Hard to believe that primary voting is starting, pretty much a year after it all started. And what a time John McCain and Barack Obama have chosen to pick. Look at the last installment of the Zogby tracking poll out this morning:
- Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton has crashed to 24%, down from 28% yesterday and 30% two days ago. Barack Obama is now at 31%, up from 28% yesterday. And John Edwards is second at 27%. There is very little movement in the second-tier, with Richardson at 7% and Biden at 5%.
- The Zogby numbers are now very similar to the DMR poll — just as in 2004 when Zogby’s tracking took a few more days to pick-up the Edwards and Kerry surge.
- Among Republicans, Zogby has Huckabee rising at 31%, Romney staying mostly stable at 25%, while Thompson takes third place alone for the first time at 11%. McCain is at 10%, tied with… Ron Paul who has some momentum. Giuliani is at his lowest ever, at 6%.
And Obama might get a huge boost if this is confirmed, but there are now reports that Joe Biden and Bill Richardson’s precincts captains might encourage their backers to go for Obama if their candidates are unviable. This would truly be huge and such a coordinated move would add many points to Obama and pretty much guarantee a win — it could also spell huge trouble for Edwards whose hopes are pinned on winning second-choice preferences.
Is is true? Biden’s move is being kind of confirmed by a Biden staffer to the HuffPost as he said that Biden backers are likely to migrate to Obama. But Biden’s spokesman said there is “no deal with any other candidate” — though that doesn’t really answer the question, since that is not what the rumor is about. Kucinich, after all, asked his backers to realign for Obama without any deal being struck.
On the other hands, reports about Richardson’s move are being confirmed by the Iowa Independent. And this is huge, huge, huge. Richardson is polling 5-8% in polls, and even half of that moving to Obama would be a tremendous boost that would get him so many more delegates. And it would also be a huge surprise, symbolic of Clinton’s fall: Until a month ago, Bill Richardson constantly rushed to her defense, obviously gunning for being the veep. (Update: Ben Smith is skeptical of any such vote transfer deals).
More than ever, the expectation at this point is that Clinton will get third place — and that Obama is succeeding in turning out in independents and securing a lead — at least in the entrance poll (whether Edwards can overtake him post-caucus politicking is still debated). This does not mean that Clinton will lose at all, obviously, but much of the coverage of the past 3 days has been set by the storyline of Obama’s momentum again — and notice how this is almost entirely due to the DMR’s poll on Monday. Until then, it was all about Edwards’s move and Obama’s troubles. Talk about a poll setting the storyline.