It may be true -- as my NBC colleague Chuck Todd reports -- that the findings of the University of Iowa poll are similar to what private candidate polls show. (And Chuck likes the open-ended question.)

But the sample size is enormous and it comports more with a sample of adult Iowans than it does with hard-core Iowa Democrats. Two different samples, two different sets of results.

A caveat here might well be that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign is predicated on turning out more less frequent Democratic voters and that a broader sample captures his support more accurately than a narrower sample.

The political scientist who conducts the poll is David Redlawsk.

He's a nice guy, very smart, a liberal Democrat, and he's one of John Edwards's county chairs.

Given these facts -- and given the methodological questions -- Iowa political journalists don't pay too much attention to the poll.

(Yes, the headline is "Edwards Fades" -- but Mr. Edwards will benefit from lower expectations.)

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