Everyone's been waiting impatiently for the final Des Moines Register poll before Thursday's caucuses, and the paper just released it. It's not good news for our man Mitt: it has him solidly behind Mike Huckabee, 32%-26%.
The polling was done Sunday, which means after all the Christmas-table conversations; after Romney's negative advertising; after Huckabee's awkward responses to the Pakistan crisis; after all of it. And Huckabee is still beating Romney.
Romney's awesome Iowa organization won't make that big a difference on caucus day -- it might be worth a couple of points, but not more than that.
Of course, the numbers could still change. But at this point, I think it's pretty clear that Iowa voters have made their decision about Romney, and about Huckabee, pro or con; I suspect that the other GOP candidates' numbers may change a fair amount, but the top two look pretty set -- and my reading of Romney's campaign behavior the past couple of days suggests that their internal numbers say the same.
Speaking of those other candidates, McCain looks like a solid third, although I could see Fred Thompson getting a little late burst. Giuliani now looks like an inescapable 6th, which, regardless of how much he "tried" in Iowa, is a humiliation for the supposed "national" candidate.
For the Dems, the Register has Obama well out in the lead, with Clinton and Edwards deadlocked but well behind.
Please note that last week I predicted that Huckabee will win Iowa, with the Dems finishing Obama-Edwards-Clinton.