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Clinton down in Iowa: expect anonymous negative onslaught pronto

Oh boy. The Hillary Clinton juggernaut is running out of steam in Iowa as Barack Obama and Edwards are basically in a statistical tie with her. (ABC):

While Clinton still leads on more personal attributes than any of her competitors, just half of Iowa Democrats in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll believe she's willing to say what she really thinks — far fewer than say so of either Obama or John Edwards. Obama beats her by 2-1 as the most honest and trustworthy candidate. Her advantage on experience, while substantial, has softened since summer. She has notably less support in Iowa than nationally in trust to handle a variety of specific issues — on Iraq, for example, Obama now runs evenly with her. And she's third in Iowa among men.

…Among those who say they're “absolutely certain” to attend a caucus, Obama has 28 percent support, Clinton 26 percent — again very close, and a contrast to Clinton's nearly 2-1 lead over Obama nationally.

Data from the ABC/Washington Post poll.

Obama is within sight of Clinton on another of her main features, an image of strong leadership: Thirty-two percent call her the strongest leader, vs. 27 percent for Obama; it was 36-23 percent last summer. And both Obama and Edwards lead Clinton in honesty and trustworthiness, and in empathy, two relative weaknesses for her nationally as well. Clinton retains her lead in being seen as the most electable candidate, though its much less of an advantage in Iowa than nationally. And few fault her effort: She also leads as the candidate whos campaigned hardest in the state.

…A final change in Iowa, less fortuitous for Clinton, is among political moderates; her support in this group has slipped to 19 percent, again in third place behind Obama and Edwards. She does better with liberals, but there are fewer of them.

The  negative-but-cannot-be-tied-directly-to-Hillary's-peeps spigots will open shortly.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding