Endorsements don't carry the weight they used to these days. Political pundit Nate Silver (the nation's leading expert on polls) estimates that endorsement would not affect more than 3% of the caucus-attendees, and maybe even less.
But if the Democratic race in Iowa is as close as some believe it is, then a bump of even 1% or 2% could be critical in the outcome of the caucuses.And that's what the latest poll shows. It is the CBS News / YouGov Battleground Poll -- done between January 18th and 21st of a random sample of 490 Iowa Democrats. No margin of error was given. That poll showed Clinton and Sanders within 1 point of each other.
Here is what the editorial board of the Des Moines Register had to say:
If there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans agree on this year, it’s the fact that the next president will face enormous challenges.
Domestically, this president must work with Congress in confronting the issues of immigration, health care, increased threats to national security, the disappearing middle class, the growing deficit, Social Security solvency, gun control, renewable energy, sentencing reform and more.
On the world stage, this president will have to work with foreign leaders in dealing with ISIS and other terrorists, climate change, the containment of nuclear threats posed in North Korea and Iran, the Russian incursions in Ukraine and foreign trade.
The presidency is not an entry-level position. Whoever is sworn into office next January must demonstrate not only a deep understanding of the issues facing America, but also possess the diplomatic skills that enable presidents to forge alliances to get things done.
By that measure, Democrats have one outstanding candidate deserving of their support: Hillary Clinton. No other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience.
As first lady, she worked tirelessly on health care reform and, with bipartisan support, created the Children’s Health Insurance Program that provides coverage for 8 million children.
As a senator, she reached across party lines and joined forces with conservatives, including Sen. Lindsey Graham and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to fight for job creation and universal health care.
As secretary of state, she helped secure international sanctions against Iran and redefined her job by expanding America’s diplomatic agenda to include poverty, women’s rights, the environment and other issues.
She is not a perfect candidate, as evidenced the way she has handled the furor over her private email server. In our endorsement of her 2008 campaign for president, we wrote that “when she makes a mistake, she should just say so.” That appears to be a lesson she has yet to fully embrace.
Her changing stance on gay marriage, immigration and other issues has invited accusations that she is guided less by personal conviction than by political calculations. She refutes that, and argues persuasively that a willingness to change one’s thinking on specific issues, while remaining true to what she calls “the same values and principles,” is a virtue, one lacking in most politicians.
Over the course of two meetings, Clinton spent more than three hours with the editorial board, answering questions in a direct and forthright manner. She exhibited an impressive command of the issues, though we’d have liked to hear more from her on the debt and the future of Social Security. She was somewhat prickly and defensive when discussing her emails, but overall she was gracious, engaging and personable.
Her chief opponent for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has proven to be an honorable and formidable campaigner, and it’s very likely that without him in the race, candidates in both parties wouldn’t be discussing America’s growing inequality in wealth and income.
Sanders has tapped into the public’s anger and frustration with Washington, without demonizing government and resorting to the cheap demagoguery favored by Donald Trump and others. He has shown himself to be a man of courage and principle who has the ability to rally others to his cause.
But Sanders admits that virtually all of his plans for reform have no chance of being approved by a Congress that bears any resemblance to the current crop of federal lawmakers. This is why, he says, voters can’t simply elect him president, but must instead spark a “political revolution.”
Easier said than done. Congress has the largest Republican majority since the 71st Congress of 1929-31.
A successful Sanders presidency would hinge on his ability to remake Washington in his own image. It’s almost inconceivable that such a transformation could take place, even with Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress.
As for Martin O’Malley, the data-driven, wonkish former Maryland governor who has gained little traction in the campaign so far, he seems better suited to a Cabinet-level job in a Clinton White House.
In the final analysis, Iowa Democrats will have to choose between the lofty idealism of Bernie Sanders and the down-to-earth pragmatism of Hillary Clinton. For some, this will be a choice of whether to vote with their hearts or their heads.
Clinton has demonstrated that she is a thoughtful, hardworking public servant who has earned the respect of leaders at home and abroad. She stands ready to take on the most demanding job in the world.