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Who Do The Biden Brigades Like Second-best?

Ames, Iowa 

I'm sitting in a restaurant a few blocks from a public library where Biden held an event today. I won't re-hash it--see Mike's recent piece to get a sense of what his events are like; I can vouch for Mike's "blazing confidence" observation--other than two point out two things: 1.) The people who showed up--I'd guess there were 200-250 of them--were remarkably enthusiastic. When it was over, they gave Biden the loudest, most sustained ovation I've seen in Iowa so far. 2.) I know it's tedious to catalogue who talked Musharaff after the Bhutto assassination, but you have to be a little impressed by a guy Musharaff called even before he called the president and the secretary of state. (Biden also said he got an unsolicited call from Bhutto herself a week ago Sunday to talk security in Pakistan.)

Other than my fond feelings for the guy, the reason I showed up today was to survey Biden supporters about their second choices. I talked to four of them. Three told me they'd probably caucus for Edwards if Biden wasn't viable; one said she'd caucus for Hillary. (I met a fifth Biden supporter at an Edwards event this weekend; he also said he'd go with Edwards if Biden didn't make the cut.)

Two of the people I talked to said they were pretty impressed with Obama but worried about his relative youth and inexperience. That's not so surprising coming from Biden supporters. What's interesting is that all four people were middle-class professionals, and yet they were still high on Edwards, whose appeal to non-blue-collar voters many reporters doubt.

For what it's worth, this jibes with something I've noticed in the polling over the last several months: Edwards tends to do as well if not better among affluent, college-educated types as he does among working-class voters. For example, in the CBS/New York Times poll released in mid-November, Edwards was at 23 percent among high-school graduates and 21 percent among college graduates. (By comparison, Hillary was at 37 percent among high-school grads but only 20 percent among college grads.) Just something to keep in mind as you process the caucus results Thursday night...

Update: The Biden campaign says there were 400 people in Ames today. My rough estimates (I usually count across a row or two, then the number of columns, for each separate rectangular area, then multiply) have generally been consistent with what the campaigns later report. But there were lots of people standing up today and pouring out into the hallway, so it's possible I could have been farther off the mark than usual...

--Noam Scheiber