John Edwards has the practice, having placed second in the last Iowa caucuses and visited more counties than anyone else. Barack Obama has the buzz, which has translated into an unmatched volunteer army. And Hillary Clinton has the machine, a formidable alliance of the state's leading political minds and institutional backers.
The three leading Democratic presidential contenders head into the Iowa caucuses Thursday with distinct approaches to winning. But with just five days left, all their fates now hinge on the same thing: How good their painstakingly built ground organizations - the deepest and biggest in Iowa history - perform when it counts.
The extremely tight race - the most recent polls show a virtual tie among the three - means the victor will probably be the candidate not with the best stump speech but the best network of local precinct captains. Or the sharpest voter-mobilization campaign. Or the smartest baby-sitting arrange ments for caucus-goers with young children. Or perhaps even the biggest push by unions and other "independent" groups - particularly for Clinton and Edwards.