The biggest new on the American primary campaign trail is this:

According to the the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, Sen. Barack Obama beats Sen. Hillary Clinton 2-1 as the most honest and trustworthy candidate. She has less support in Iowa than nationally in trust to handle a variety of specific issues. Obama now runs evenly with her on the topic of Iraq. And she’s third in Iowa among men.

The ABC/Wash. poll puts Obama 4.0 points ahead of Clinton (30 to 26), conducted from the 14th to the 18th of this month, among 500 person. The current average among polls is Clinton ahead by 2.4 – nothing that new. However, the ABC/Wash. poll is the latest after a whole bunch of Democratic events and debates – and the most recent.

Something else to come out of the poll was this finding:

Most Democratic likely voters in Iowa, 55 percent, say they’re more interested in a “new direction and new ideas” than in strength and experience, compared with 49 percent in July — a help to Obama, who holds a substantial lead among “new direction” voters.

This is something similar to what we are experiencing in Australia at the moment, with the popularity of Rudd-Labor against the Howard-Coalition. New ideas and new faces. The same appears to be going on in Iowa. I hesitate to say America because Iowa is one of the least diversified states in the U.S., and it certainly is representative of all places urban and rural.

The poll that has Obama leading by 4.0 points is an increase of 3.0 since July, with a massive drop for Edwards of 4.0 points. It seems even more clear that those hoping for an Edwards early momentum victory will not like this stat. In fact, I would think it indicates that Edwards is done. There’s two months left to make up ground that took Obama five months to gain. Bad luck, a good race run. He hasn’t made himself that much of a viable V.P., so I would think that this is the last we will be seeing of John Edwards.

The entire survey of Democrat voters was quite extensive. It was part-comparison on what grounds Obama had made, and what grounds Clinton had lost on.Going back to the ‘new vs. experience’ question, in July, 49% of those surveyed said that they preferred ‘a new direction and new ideas’ than ‘strength and experience’, with the latter receiving a vote of 39%. Now in November, 55% prefer the ‘new’, with 33% going for the ‘experience’: A shift of +16% and -6% respectively. Obama is put forward as the new, with Clinton as the old hand. This is a promising figure, thus, for Obama.

Another interesting figure in the survey is that Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico and Democratic runner for a long time, polls at 11 points. If he were to go on and actually get some delegates in these early states, it would be interesting to see if he goes through to the end of the race, or, realising that he stands no chance because he didn’t gain enough in the early states, pulls out. If so, who would he go on to endorse? Clinton or Obama? Clinton hasn’t treated the ‘fringe’ candidates very well (going so far as to propose, with a live microphone around (though she didn’t know), that there be Clinton/ Obama/ Edwards debates only in the future). Nor has she courted the votes Richardson is after. So it’s a promising prospect that Richardson might go ahead and endorse Obama.

The survey also asked Democratic voters who, of the candidates, is willing to speak their mind. Clinton polled at an abysmal 50%, while Obama got 76%. Edwards, not so surprisingly, got 73%. In all honesty, Obama and Edwards have been running the honest and free-spoken campaign. Clinton has run the sound-bites and pandering type. Of course, both are successful in the right conditions.

In the ‘honest and trustworthy’ question, Obama polled highest with 31%, Edwards second with 20%, and Clinton trailing with 15%. By those figures, twice as many people think that Obama is more honest than Clinton. Again, no surprise there by the way these people have run their race.

With the question ‘understands your problems’, Obama polled at 30%, while Clinton got 20%, and Edwards 25%. Strong leader had Obama closer to Clinton than I thought would be the case – 27% to 32% respectively. On immigration, it’s between Obama (22%) and Richardson (25%), with Clinton (16%) behind the two.

However, here were some really interesting figure to come out of the poll:

Trust to handle:
The economy – Clinton 28%, Obama 27%
Social security – Clinton 27%, Obama 27%
Iraq – Clinton 23%, Obama 26%
Iran – Clinton 23% Obama 26%

In other polls, Iowa voters cite Iraq as the most important issue in their choice (33%), with health care in at second (26%). If that’s the case, and in this latest poll they think Obama is better for the Iraq issue, then his +4.0 lead may firm up some more. Remember, though, that those figures could be backlash against Clinton being a woman.

Among specific group, it’s good news for Obama again. Clinton has 19% support from Iowa men. Obama and Edwards lead her here. Among women in Iowa, Clinton and Obama run even – despite the 2:1 lead Clinton polls nationally. One in five women polled said that the prospect of having a first female president influences her vote. Across independent voters in Iowa, Obama has a big lead – 35% against Clintons 18%.

Interestingly, in the ‘young’ group, Obama polls first. However among the ‘first time caucus goers’ polled, Clinton leads. It’s interesting to note that 1/3rd of all Iowa ‘young’ caucus goers this time say it will be their first – so we could be looking at a split vote here between Obama and Clinton.

Obama rules the ‘highly educated’ group. This group has a signifacnt, reliable turnout to caucuses. 1/5th of all caucus voters in Iowa have done postgraduate work – the ‘highly educated’ group. Obama has a 37% polling figure to Clinton’s 16%.

The biggest drop for any candidate was for Edwards. He used to poll at a huge 36% in July among the ’65 and over’ group. Now it’s a halved 18%. Pretty disappointing for him here.

So all of this is good news for the Obama camp. Some interesting gains, and some interesting losses (for other candidates that is). Go Obama!



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