GWEN IFILL: Last night's Iowa debate was the last joint appearance for the candidates before caucuses convene all over the state one week from tonight.
Between now and then, six of the nine candidates running for the Democratic nomination will make final pitches for the hearts, minds, and votes of Iowans.
How are they doing? For that, we turn to Adam Nagourney, chief political writer for the New York Times. Ed Nagourney, is it even possible to measure at this point how they're doing, which candidates are ahead, behind?
ADAM NAGOURNEY: I don't know, but there are certainly a lot of people who are trying. There's a series of polls going, one in the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune over the weekend and what's known as a daily tracking poll being done.
There's a real problem with polling in Iowa in any year, which is that this isn't a normal election, this isn't just people coming out to vote, these are caucuses, it requires a certain amount of dedication for people to show up, on a Monday night when it won't be snowing and all that and spend three hours in someone's living room or firehouse or whatever.
So organization becomes very important. That makes it harder to figure out who is going to vote. I think this year is arguably more difficult than usual because the Dean people, we think there's going to be a lot of new people coming out to vote this time.
We're not sure how easy it's going to be to capture them. And there's a problem... a lot of Dean voters have cell phones and one of the problems pollsters have been facing is that you can't include people with cell phones as part of your random sample. It's difficult.
GWEN IFILL: So each candidates are saying get organized and get hot at the end, who is organizing, who is the strongest on the ground right now? The place must be crawling with campaign workers all over the country.
ADAM NAGOURNEY: It really is. There's two in particular who are very strong, first of all Richard Gephardt, congressman from Missouri, ran here in '88, he's running an old fashioned kind of labor as in labor union intensive organization campaign.
And, you know, it works well, it's worked before, it will work again, it's what we know, it's a lot of labor unions, and I think 21 at last count from across the country. Dean is different, Dean has some unions too, but he's got a lot more new people.
They're saying they're bringing in 3500 people from across the people, and I believe it from what I've seen here, just to get people out, to identify supporters and get them to the polls, it's different than what we're used to.
John Kerry, a third candidate who is doing okay here, I think, has the support of some very, some people who know Iowa really well, who have done this before, who understand, I can't exaggerate how complicated this is.
They understand the complications of the actual vote in the caucus and how to get people out, how to identify supporters, and I think that will be a help for him too.
GWEN IFILL: You just mentioned the Des Moines Register, and of course John Edwards got their big enforcement Sunday. Does that move people around undecided voters around?
ADAM NAGOURNEY: Well, you know, people, the other candidates will tell you well the register endorsed Bill Bradley in, excuse me, 2000 and Paul Simon, the senator, in 1988. I think it is a big deal. I think it is helpful.
There are by any measure either one-tenth or one-third of the caucus-goers still undecided. Obviously that's a number drawn out of the air a little bit. And I think this adds a little legitimacy to Edwards.
What you said before about who gets hot at the end, which is particularly true in a general election, from what I'm seeing right now, the candidate who is doing the best on the ground, audiences, message, just in his groove, like we saw, I won't overstate this, somewhat like we aw with Bill Clinton in 1992 is John Edwards. He's got it right now.
At the same time, Howard Dean, who has been the candidate most people thought has been the hottest all year, is having a difficult period. We all have difficult periods, this probably isn't the best time for Howard Dean to be having a difficult perfect.
GWEN IFILL: Answer one other question for me, which is, Tom Harkin, the senator from the state arguably the state's most popular politician, endorsed Howard Dean on Friday, yet was quoted over the weekend saying very positive things about John Edwards. What was that about?
ADAM NAGOURNEY: I'll tell you what that's about. Tom Harkin is a very, very crafty politician. The real fight going on here, excuse me, one of the dozens of real fights going on here is who is going to be in first place, and it's between, I think, Gephardt and Dean.
And Edwards, I believe, and again we're just sort of guessing here, we're reporting and talking to people, not so much polling information, I think that Edwards is competing for a lot of the same votes that Gephardt is going after, rural communities, farmers, more labor and blue collar.
GWEN IFILL: So let me get this right. If Harkin drives up the Edwards vote, he takes away from Gephardt perhaps and helps Dean?
ADAM NAGOURNEY: And puts Gephardt down to second place; Harkin is a very smart guy. I saw him do that at the announcement where he announced his position on Friday, and I thought this guy is smart.
GWEN IFILL: I'm glad you're there to keep track of who's on first or second, as it goes. Thank you Adam.
ADAM NAGOURNEY: Thank you, Gwen.