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Barack Obama for Democrat, Mike Huckebee for Republican - two names you didn't think would win the Iowa Caucus two weeks ago.
Iowans were preparing to launch the presidential race on Thursday after a long, sometimes bizarre campaign infused with celebrity candidates and their star supporters, and a record Hollywood investment in the results.
The leading Democratric contenders --- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards --- were in a race that analysts said was too close to call, with Obama holding onto a slight lead in the polls that nevertheless hinged on his campaign's ability to turnout first-time caucus-goers.
Republican Mike Huckabee's underfunded campaign hoped to maintain a lead in some polls with a last minute boost on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Wednesday. His chief rival, Mitt Romney, issued a bitter attack on him in the waning days of the race, targeting not just the candidate's record but his No. 1 celebrity endorsee, martial arts star Chuck Norris.
TEN WEEKS - SURVEYING THE DAMAGE OF THE WRITERS STRIKE
Ten weeks into the writers strike, the community still feels the action was justified, but there's an overwhelming sense that the writers will eventually wind up on the losing end of a deal and that the personal cost of the work stoppage is mounting fast. That's the upshot of the latest survey of Variety subscribers conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates.
The online survey of 616 Variety subscribers, conducted Dec. 26-31, followed up on many of the same questions asked of subscribers in a Variety/Magid survey conducted Nov. 16-21 in an effort to gauge industry perceptions of the strike (Daily Variety, Nov. 26).
Survey respondents were very divided on key questions, such as whether the Directors Guild of America should have waited longer before signaling its intent to begin its own contract negotiations with Hollywood's majors this month; whether the WGA should picket awards shows; or whether the major latenight skeins should have waited longer before returning to production this week.
And the financial hardships caused by the strike have become significantly more pervasive. In the latest survey, 26% of respondents said they have lost their jobs because of the strike, compared with 16% in the November survey.
Despite the continued support for the WGA's decision to go out on Nov. 5 -- the percentage of those who agreed that the strike was necessary increased 3% from the November survey to 64% of respondents -- fewer people believe the strike will be resolved in the writers' favor as compared with the November survey, even among respondents who identified themselves as WGA members.
More respondents say they view the WGA in a more negative light since the strike began and since the previous survey.