The Hillary Clinton campaign is questioning the validity of the new Des Moines Register poll that shows Democratic rival Barack Obama widening his lead just days before the crucial caucuses.
In the Register's final Iowa Poll before Thursday's contest, Obama led with 32 percent, while Clinton stayed at 25 percent and John Edwards stood at 24 percent. Obama rose from 28 percent in late November and had the largest lead of any Democrat all year, thanks to support from likely first-time caucus-goers, including large numbers of independents.
And that's the rub.
The Clinton camp argues that the Register's model of who will turn out for the caucuses is different than in 2004 by including far more independents. If the same model was used in 2004, Clinton would be in the lead. Other recent polls show a virtual dead heat among the three Democrats.
"The Des Moines Register poll adopts an unprecedented new turnout model for the caucuses, and its new poll is out of sync with the other polling done in the race," Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist, said in a memo posted on a campaign website late Monday.
"So we do not see this poll as accurately reflecting the trends we are seeing in other polls, on our nightly canvasses or in our own polls, and voters should understand this is a very close race, and that their participation on caucus night could make all of the difference."
The Register poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.