Sen. Hillary Clinton - Clinton's performance in Iowa has been unimpressive and lacks the intimacy of her Democratic competitors. There is no shortage of love from hardliner Bill Clinton fans, and questions arise over whether crowds are appearing for her or for her husband. Plants inside her campaign report a coldness. Her scripts and polling processes are the most calculated and her appearances are designed to create a media frenzy. Her New Year's bash was a fizzle as she refused to appear for the anticipated New Year's kiss with husband Bill. She acts like royalty - entitled - ready to take on a pre-ordained duty. On the other hand she has tremendous support from the party base - love from the powerful East Coast Press and sophisticated mechanisms to run a political machine.
Sen. Barrack Obama - Looking Presidential. Obama's looking good coming in the final stretch - looks much more polished and gaining momentum with the revisions in his oral message. His headquarters is filled with vibrant young people who are executing a political ground war effectively. Obama's path to politics involves work as a community organizer divided by years studying at Harvard Law. How his message plays to white middle class America and his capacity to bring young people to the polls is the "make or break" question. Sen. John Edwards - Edwards is experienced with Iowa voters. He has a lot of help from the 527's who are working hard to carry his message. Unions love him but his base has failed to grow. A last minute pissing match between Obama and Clinton could help Edwards slide into a higher rank. Many of Edward's messages and campain innovations were swallowed up by his competitors. If Edwards can pull a rabit out of a hat, tonight could change everything as John Cougal Mellencamp plays to an over-capacity crowd for him in Des Moines.
*******Wild Card******** The Iowa Democrats have an interesting way of doing things. Here's a summary: Everyone stands against a wall under the banner of their candidate. Undecided voters stand in the middle. Any candidate with under 15% of the crowd has to go to the middle. This is where negotiation begins as caucus goers can choose another candidate. Negotiation and power plays including delegate assignments, platform promotion and in rural Iowa, even good old fashion chocolate chip cookies can be used to seduce caucus goers to stand behind their politico of choice. Late tonight we'll give a play by play of second tier candidates and who they're telling supporters to support if they can't win.