Over at OpenLeft Chris Bowers has posted the latest in his "Nomination at a Glance" series.
This is the money part:
I will say, however, that I think the Edwards rise in Iowa has slightly improved his chances to win the nomination, but also improved Clinton’s chances to win the nomination. Right now, I say that based on the likelihood of the scenarios I presented above, Clinton has a 60% chance to be the nominee, Obama a 30% chance, and Edwards a 10% chance.
If anything, Bowers may have understated the effect of an Edwards Iowa win and the odds of a Clinton nomination.
At the political predication market, InTrade, Hillary has risen from a low of 56% to her current 70% probability of winning the nomination in the last 12 days. Hillary's nomination odds have been climbing in lockstep Edwards's Iowa odds (increase from 15% to 30%). Edwards's nomination odds have gone from 4.7% to 7.1% in that period.
Edwards's Iowa success helps Hillary a lot more than it helps Edwards. As long as there are two anti-Hillary candidates, they split that vote and Hillary slides right on through.
We are looking at eight years of transactional and triangulating politics. Time to buy stock in lobbying firms.
Obama was Hillary's biggest threat. He caught her off guard last winter, and hit her with fund raising shock and awe in the spring. She stumbled as Obama rose in November. But notice that she is no longer really attacking. She's sitting back and enjoying the show as Obama has to fight off Edwards. In fact, she has never really bothered to attack Edwards much. No wonder.
Edwards has such low nomination odds in part because of where he stands in polls, but also because of his financial problem which, because he accepted matching funds, cannot be repaired even if he wins in Iowa.
As Chris pointed out long ago, an Obama Iowa win would probably lead to an Obama nomination after New Hampshire and South Carolina fell his way like dominoes, creating a wave right on into Feb. 5. That defeats Hillary and Edwards.
It's not as clear nor as bad as Nader voters electing Bush in Florida, but ironically, the Edwards voters in Iowa may be helping to elect the least progressive of the the viable Democratic candidates. The difference is one of degree, not of kind.
Bill Clinton claimed voters were "rolling the dice" with Obama. Bill's a smart man. Don't play poker with him unless you are really good at math and reading bluffs. Odds are he's smiling when he sees people rolling the nomination dice on Edwards.