For those who haven't seen it yet, the latest Des Moines Register poll has Obama leading Clinton and Edwards 28-25-23. On the GOP side, Huckabee now leads Romney 29-24, with Giuliani in third at 13.

One thing that occurred to me reading the accompanying Register pieces is that Obama may be benefiting from an interesting dynamic among women. This passage in the write-up of the Democratic results caught my eye:

Browne [a 30-year-old University of Iowa student] said she feels Obama is a more inspirational candidate than Clinton, despite the intensifying crossfire between them.

"I just think that Obama is more of a positive candidate overall," she said. "Aside from the Clinton-Obama interaction lately, it's nice to hear a candidate with a positive outlook. I think our country needs that right now."

Browne, who supported Clinton early partly out of gender loyalty, represents a shift among some women caucusgoers from Clinton to Obama.

In the new poll, Obama leads with support from 31 percent of women likely attend the caucuses, compared to 26 percent for Clinton. In October, Clinton was the preferred candidate of 34 percent of women caucusgoers, compared to 21 percent for Obama.

We may be discovering that Hillary's early strength--in Iowa and elsewhere--was soft, and not just for conventional reasons, like the fact that early support is often based on name-recognition. It may be that a lot of women supported Hillary early on because they wanted to see a woman elected president, but, once they learned about all the candidates, they discovered that Obama or Edwards were a better fit for them ideologically or sensibility-wise.

This piece in today's New York Times hints at the same point.

On the GOP side, this finding stood out for me (as did the Register's description of its own poll as "scientific." Good to know!):

The Register's new scientific poll shows Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, leading Romney 38 percent to 22 percent among those who consider themselves born-again Christians. In October, Romney edged Huckabee 23 percent to 18 percent among people in that group, which accounts for one-half of all likely caucus participants.

A lot of us in the press have been saying for months that Huckabee would be a force to be reckoned with if he could consolidate evangelical support. Well, that's obviously happening.

And these Giuliani findings were somewhat amusing:

Giuliani, the poll's third-place finisher, is seen as the most electable of the candidates and also has a slight edge as the most effective negotiator and the best able to bring Republicans and Democrats together. ...

Other poll findings show that Giuliani is more of a polarizing figure than the other top-tier candidates in Iowa...


--Noam Scheiber