DES MOINES -- Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee just got a welcome dose of good news in the closing hours of 2007: The latest -- and presumably final -- Des Moines Register poll before Thursday's caucuses shows them leading their respective fields by modest margins.
Among Democrats, it's Obama at 32 percent, Hillary Clinton at 25 percent, and John Edwards at 24 percent. Huckabee is up over Mitt Romney, 32 percent to 26 percent. John McCain clocks in at third with 13 percent.
What does this mean? It's hard to know -- other recent polls have shown different results. But the Register poll, which has a good track record, is very well-respected here, and all the campaigns were awaiting it eagerly.
Aides to Clinton and Edwards immediately tried to throw water on the results, arguing that the methodology and sampling were off. "Is the poll accurate? There are good reasons to think it is NOT," the Edwards campaign said. And Clinton is expressing confidence.
"I feel really good about what's going to happen Thursday night at the caucuses," she just told a crowd of supporters gathered for a New Year's Eve party at a downtown office building.
What's clear is that both races remain very tight. Three days, a dozen candidates, two very happy campaigns come Thursday night. Stay tuned.