An e-mailer makes some informed guesses
I now live in Minnesota but spent most of my life in Iowa and much of my family is still in the Hawkeye state. I was once a county delegate in the caucus system (Dole in ‘96) so I have a pretty good sense of how the system works.
Edwards has really pushed a nice guy image in recent weeks choosing to avoid the vicious infighting between frontrunners Dean, Gephardt, and Kerry. Edwards actually touts his positive campaign more so than any issue that he supports. While being a nice guy doesn’t inspire an enthusiastic base, it could help make Edwards the #2 choice of several caucus voters. Several of the 9 candidates certainly will not hit “viable candidate” status on the first round (Lieberman, Clark, Kucinich). Edwards could therefore be the big winner among caucus goers forced to make a second choice. In contrast, Dean’s abrasiveness may have pushed a lot of voters to have a love or hate opinion of him – his base loves him, supporters of other candidates are turned off by him. With the race between the 4 frontrunners being so close, the re-caucusing rounds will be critical.