Candidates Enter Final Stretch to Jan. 3 Iowa Caucuses

By: TJ Winick, ABC News
By: TJ Winick, ABC News

It's not the twelve days of Christmas, but it is eight days till Iowa that the presidential hopefuls are counting.

That's how long they have to lock up votes in the Hawkeye state.

ABC's TJ Winick looks at how the crucial race is stacking up.

Five candidates, according to the polls, have a shot at winning the Iowa caucuses--with just 8 days to go.

It's a three-way dead heat among the Democrats.

Hillary Clinton will be relying on first-time women caucus goers.

"We have hundreds and hundreds of women in their 90's who want to caucus for me," said Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama will be counting on college students whom he hopes are in state and not on vacation.

"If you are an Iowa student, you can be an Iowa caucus goer, and I want you to prove them wrong when they say you're not gonna show up," said Barack Obama.

For more than any other candidate, Iowa is considered a must win for John Edwards.

"You know I learned a valuable lesson a few years ago. A lady comes up to me after an election and she said, you know Edwards I would have voted for you, but you never asked me. I'll never make that mistake again," explained John Edwards.

The new compressed primary schedule has made this presidential race even more difficult to predict.

"In years past, you had time after the New Year's holiday to have the Iowa caucuses so we could get poll number, see where the race stood and had some sense where the race was at that point. Now with Iowa less than 48 hours after New Year's day, we don't have a way to find out a real sense of this race until people go in and vote in caucuses," explained Matthew Dowd.

Among the Republicans, it's really a two-man contest-- Mitt Romney versus Mike Huckabee.

Romney has spent more than 16-million in TV ads, yet still trails in the latest polls.

If Romney beats Huckabee in Iowa, one beneficiary would be Fred Thompson, who could then re-emerge as the strongest southern candidate.


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