Here’s what the Edwards campaign wants for Christmas:

A blizzard in Iowa City on Jan. 3.

A boring day for television sports.

Mudslinging commercials that turn off Iowa voters.

If that sounds like a prescription for a low turnout, his campaign believes it might give John Edwards an edge in the extremely tight Iowa Democratic caucus, where he is close behind Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Unlike his rivals, Mr. Edwards is counting on attracting people to the polls who have caucused for him before, in 2004, when he came in a close second to Senator John Kerry. The campaign believes that it has held onto most of his past supporters, and that he benefits if first-time caucus-goers have an excuse to stay home.

He is also counting on voters in rural counties, far outside Iowa City or Des Moines, where Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton may have an edge.

Mr. Edwards also polls better among men than women, so any exciting sports event that day could hurt him, if men decide to stay close to the television and skip voting.