With candidates in both parties racing toward photo finishes in Monday's Iowa caucuses, the issues have receded from view. Instead, the final push is a contest of raw emotion, war, sports, animal magnetism and last-minute gimmicks. I've seen election campaigns up close in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and other European countries, but I've never seen one get so personal.
I wouldn't go so far as to predict the outcome, but the last pre-caucus poll, commissioned by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg, meshes with my impressions.
The final poll has usually called the winners correctly. This year, though, the spread between the leading Democratic candidates is within the 4 percent margin of error, and the top two Republicans' support differs by just 5 percentage points.
Further data gives an edge to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump, which fits what I've seen and heard on the campaign trail in these last frantic days.