Obama 30, Clinton 26, Edwards 22 -- that's where things stand in Iowa among likely caucus-goers according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Since ABC's July poll of Iowa Democrats, Hillary Clinton's support has remained unchanged while John Edwards has moved -4 and Barack Obama has moved +3 (both within sampling tolerances).
"A growing focus on fresh ideas coupled with lingering doubts about Hillary Clinton's honesty and forthrightness are keeping the Democratic presidential contest close in Iowa," writes ABC Polling Director Gary Langer.
Among those who say they're "absolutely certain" to attend a caucus, Obama has 28 percent with Clinton at 26 percent and Edwards at 23 percent.
According to Langer's analysis, Clinton has "a particular problem in Iowa with men" -- just 19 percent support versus her 31 percent support among women.
(Obama and Edwards both lead her among men, and Richardson is within sampling error).
Also problematic for Clinton: fifty-five percent of likely Democratic voters in Iowa say they're more interested in a "new direction and new ideas" than in strength and experience, compared with 49 percent in July -- a help to Obama, who holds a substantial lead among "new direction" voters.
Obama gets a chance to test drive his "new ideas" on Tuesday when he rolls out his pre-K through 12 education plan during an 8:30 am ET policy speech in Manchester, N.H.
On the merit pay-related front, Obama is expected to talk about paying teachers more based on skills and student achievement.
Obama caused a stir back in July when he obliquely discussed merit pay for teachers while addressing the National Education Association in Philadelphia.
NEA President Reg Weaver gave Obama a pass, telling ABC News that the Illinois Democrat's plan is to develop performance-based pay systems through the collective bargaining process -- "with teachers," not "to them," was the key for Weaver.
The president of the NEA's New Hampshire affiliate was less charitable.
Rhonda Wesolowski told the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus, "If you look between the lines on the answer, it wouldn't be the answer we were looking for."
(Clinton's differentiated pay concept, by contrast, is school-based, rather than individual-based).
At Camp David, ABC News' Charlie Gibson interviews President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. The interview, which takes place at 12 noon, will air Tuesday on "World News with Charles Gibson."
On the Supreme Court front, cert may be granted tomorrow on a case that could affect gun control laws nationwide. At issue is a DC law banning handguns in the home. A lower court held that the law violates Second Amendment right to bear arms. The ruling created a deep division in the lower courts across the country since a majority of them have found that the Second Amendment protects a state's right to arm militias and not an individual's right to possess a gun .
Per ABC's Ariane DeVogue, it has been nearly 70 years since the Court has heard such a case.
Finally, the Commission on Presidential debates announced dates and locations for the 2008 presidential and vice presidential debates.
Friday September 26, 2008: University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS (Domestic policy focus)
Tuesday October 7, 2008: Belmont University, Nashville, TN (Town hall format)