Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 15, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

WHAT WILL EDWARDS DO?....Via Tom Schaller, Dick Morris argues that John Edwards ought to withdraw from the Democratic race:

He manifestly can no longer win — but he helps Hillary Clinton if he stays in the race and boosts Barack Obama if he pulls out.

....Edwards divides the anti-Clinton vote — and so undermines the prospects for the changes that he so passionately demands in our government....Polling shows that the second choice of Edwards' followers is overwhelmingly Obama.

This sounds absolutely right to me. At least it did sound right until a few days ago. Then I saw a couple of polling results that gave me pause.

First was the Iowa entrance polls, which showed that Edwards did best among self-described conservatives. That's very odd since Edwards is the most progressive candidate in the race, and it suggests that a fair number of his supporters are voting their demographic, not their ideology. (No surprise there.) If that's the case, then Edwards' populist, working class supporters are more likely to switch to Hillary than to Obama.

Second, there were the results from New Hampshire, where it looks as if a part of Hillary's unexpected surge came from Edwards voters. (Not a big part, but a part.)

Third, there's Gallup's latest poll, which shows Obama's support unchanged from a week earlier, while Hillary is up and Edwards is down. This is too crude to draw any firm conclusions from, but it sure looks as if the 7% of voters who abandoned Edwards all went into the Clinton camp.

None of this is conclusive. And it certainly matters whether Edwards withdraws quietly a month from now vs. withdrawing in the near future and actively throwing his support to Obama. But I've been assuming all along that because Edwards was the most progressive major candidate running, that meant his supporters would likely move toward Obama if he withdrew. Now I'm not so sure. Edwards supporters who are voting for "change" might well swing toward Obama, but Edwards voters who are voting their demographic — older, whiter, more blue collar — are likely to swing toward Hillary. And it's possible there are more of the latter than the former. Just sayin'.

Kevin Drum 1:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (86)

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Perhaps someone more learned than I can tell me whether there is a chance Obama would make Edwards his VP?

Posted by: JFD on January 15, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention the recent poll that showed Edwards about even with Clinton and Obama in Nevada. Probably an outlier, but still. In any event, Clinton seems to be doing better with the poor, so it is logical that Edwards' support with his anti-corporate message would resonate more with those who might otherwise support Hillary. Edwards has nothing better to do, so he might as well stay in the race.

Posted by: Jim on January 15, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be too hasty, Kevin. I think that Obama and Clinton patched it up because their pollsters were telling them that Edwards would win Nevada if they didn't. He still might, if the fight to disenfranchise the casino workers heats up.

If Edwards strongly prefers one candidate, he has a motivation to drop out soon. If he doesn't, he might as well keep fighting to get his issues heard; both Clinton and Obama are relative economic centrists, less likely to speak up for those who aren't making it than Edwards. To the extent that he stays in the race longer, he forces Clinton and Obama to pick up his arguments, which I think is a good thing.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 15, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's not clear to me why one would assume that more progressive voters would move necessarily to Obama. As Paul Krugman continues to point out in is column, Obama's policy prescriptions are actually the least progressive of the three.

Posted by: Dan on January 15, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton seems to be doing better with the poor, so it is logical that Edwards' support with his anti-corporate message would resonate more with those who might otherwise support Hillary.

Logical, yes, but Edwards actually polls worse among the poor than he does among higher-income demographics.

All very interesting.

Posted by: shortstop on January 15, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Would Edwards want to stay in the primaries to pick up enough delegates to become a broker in the convention?

Posted by: elvis on January 15, 2008 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Give me a break here--I don't get to vote until Feb 5, and I want to vote for Edwards. Some tiny percentage of the country has voted, and yet the writing is supposed to be on the wall? It's not fair to the 99% of us who don't live in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Posted by: wendywriter on January 15, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I thought the exact same thing when I saw the Gallup poll. It sure does undermine the "Edwards voters all go to Obama" meme.

Posted by: JoeCHI on January 15, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

When people hear Edwards they like him.
But, then Clinton & Obama copy his ideas and words and the people like them.

Recently, Clinton & Obama have been all on their own and the people don't much like what they see.

Maybe, just maybe, the people will begin to realize in very large numbers that Edwards is, after all, the one.

Posted by: MarkH on January 15, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards is the most traditionally liberal among the 3 candidates and he will still get my vote in my primary if he doesn't drop out by then. If he does drop out before then, I'm not sure who I'll vote for. If the choices narrow to two pretty quickly I believe the electability issue will become front and center and that's what everybody will be fussing about. I think Edwards should stay in at least through the Super Tuesday election. There might be some surprises. The polls are VERY fluid and it doesn't take much to move them.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 15, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

So far there is no evidence of any ideological divide between Obama and HRC supporters. To the extent that there is any tilt at all, Obama's supporters are more conservative than Hillary Clinton's. But there's very little pattern there.

Even if there were an ideological divide between Obama and HRC that was meaningful to voters, I'm still not sure where Edwards' people are. The Iowa results, as Kevin points out, suggest that Democrats are under the impression that the southern white guy is more conservative than the black guy and the white woman. It's probably a good rule of thumb in American politcs to assume that identity trumps ideology. Most people don't even understand ideology, anyway. Looking at identity stereotypes, there is just no way most Americans are going to believe that the southern white guy Democrat is more liberal than the feminist northern female candidate, no matter how much the white guy bashes corporate greed.

I agree with Kevin that we don't really know what Edwards' supporters will do. Looking at the exit polls in NH, it doesn't appear that Edwards message particularly resonates with low income voters. They're already for Clinton. Edwards did best among middle-income voters--neither the "beer track" nor the "wine track" to use that tired cliche. There's simply no clear pattern suggesting either Obama or HRC should get his votes.

Posted by: Fran on January 15, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

There are two kinds of Obama supporters. First, there are those who support Obama. Next, there are those who want a winning candidate whose name is not Clinton.

That second group includes me. I am seriously concerned about HRC in the GE, and am backing Obama not because I agree with him (but I don't really disagree either), but mostly because he is his own person, not Bill with tits.

I think Edwards' supporters will break that way. I do believe, however, that her natural limit is 60 % of dems.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 15, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Since Edwards is the one of the three that is eaily the most electable (in fact, the only one who stands a chance of a landslide victory), then it makes perfect sense for the MSN to call for his withdrawl.

Who cares who picks whom as a running mate. IT DOESN'T MATTER. None of these three will be running mates. Edwards did neither help nor hurt Kerry (Kerry's campaign was pathetic enough). Benson did not save Dukakis. Quayle did not hard Bush41. Kennedy could have won without LBJ. Hell, even Agnew didn't harm Nixon. Nobody votes on running mates. Don't take my word for it. Read your own history. The perseveration of Democrats on this matter is disheartening.

Posted by: MaxGowan on January 15, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I can't help but wonder how practical it is to extrapolate data from states like Iowa & New Hampshire in figuring out what Nevada & South Carolina voters are likely to do. I don't pretend to know how each region & demographic orders their respective voting concerns, but I wouldn't necessarily expect trends in upcoming states to mimic those of the first two.

Posted by: junebug on January 15, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

In the short term (SC and some of the Super Tuesday states) Edwards can help Obama by taking some white Southern votes from Clinton. Based on exit polls in Iowa and NH I don't think that there is a clear indication as to whether his presence helps Obama or Clinton in the rest of the country. I'm pretty sure that Edwards is well aware of all this - I'm not sure that he'd stay in if he thought that he was splitting the "anti-Clinton" vote.

Posted by: ikl on January 15, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

The problem here is Dick Morris, who views Hillary as the embodiment of evil. If that's your approach to the race, his suggestion may make sense.

But to his credit, John Edwards if running FOR president, not running to keep Hillary from becoming president.

Posted by: PA on January 15, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

What you're suggesting is something I've been wondering about for some time now. Rather than Obama and Edwards vying to be the anti-Hillary, maybe Hillary and Edwards are competing to be the anti-Obama. The crux of it is whether people chose Edwards because of change or economics. The change voters are more likely to shift to Obama. But those more focused on the state of the economy will probably be more attracted to Clinton. The biggest benefactor of Edwards eventual fall will be whoever can figure out exactly why the majority of his supporters choose him and then co-opt them.

Posted by: JZ on January 15, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards as VP? Nahhh, as in 2004, he'd probably campaign as though he wanted to run for president four years later.

As for dropping out, unless he was absolutely broke, or polls showed him a total flop in Nevada, I don't know why Richardson didn't stay in and try to hit the Hispanic vote hard.

And, if Al says Edwards voters would break for Obama, bet Clinton at 10-1 odds, because you know that will really happen.

Sorry, Al, but you're not even a stopped watch, rather, one that's moving backward.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 15, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

wendywriter - I'm with you. I'm not the least bit enamored of either Hillary or Obama at this point. Both campaigns seem too prone to a 'win at all costs' mentality, and Edwards is speaking directly to a lot of my concerns regarding the undue influence of big business and their minions in the Corporate Media.

All these 'experts' calling for Edwards to resign can, to put it bluntly, bite me. I'd rather have him hang in there until the convention, go to the convention with however many delegates he picks up along the way, and force either Hillary or Obama to take up some of his issues.

I am voting Edwards on Feb. 5, come hell or high water.

Posted by: Stranger on January 15, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

You've got it right now, Kevin. The split in the Democratic blogosphere where Edwards supporters are much more likely to support Obama than Clinton in a two candidate race does not reflect the reality among Democratic primary voters. It seems that the second choice of Edwards primary voters is as likely (if not more likely) to be Clinton -- probably for demographic rather than ideological reasons.

Right after New Hampshire, Clinton's political advisors made a push for Edwards to get out of the race. That should have beeen an indication of what the pros think.

Posted by: Ben Brackley on January 15, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Dick Morris is a boorish, ill-informed bootlicker to the right. Edwards should stay in the race for no other reason than that Dick Morris says he shouldn't. You can be damned sure if Dick Morris says something, it will be good for Republicans.

The GOP is deathly afraid if Edwards much moreso than Hillary and likely more than Obama. They know that if voters start to hear Edwards brand of populism, their salad days are over.

Even if Edwards has little chance, he should stay in the race because, as Krugman noted in yesterdays Times, Edwards has set the democratic agenda. Both major candidates have borrowed heavily from Edwards, neither moreso than Hillary, with her economic recovery package.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on January 15, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Considering that we're but two small rural and homogeneously white-bread states into the primary cycle, rumors of John Edwards' political demise are a tad premature, dontcha think?

Further, considering his overt hostility toward Democrats in general ever since then-President Bill Clinton fired his sorry ass ten years ago, why pray tell would any self-respecting Democrat of sound mind and body pay any attention to what an odious, self-absorbed and obviously vindictive FOX News "analyst" like Dick Morris has to say about Democratic politics?

Nuf ced. Next topic?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 15, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Al, but you're not even a stopped watch, rather, one that's moving backward.

To be fair, a watch moving backwards will be correct more often than one not moving.

In fact, the only watch that is never correct is one that is running forward with perfect timing, but off by some amount...

Posted by: Mark on January 15, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Well, here's one Edwards voter whose second choice is Hillary, not Obama. If he drops out or his voters lose heart, I suspect those votes will break all over the place. But there's another issue here besides pure ideology (and it's not at all clear to me that Obama is more progressive than HRC) and that's "get down in the trenches and fight hard" versus inspiration, hope, bipartisan cooperation and general kumbaya.

I'm supporting Edwards largely because he seems to me to offer a combination of the Hillary technocrat qualities and Obama's ability to inspire people and get the public behind him. But if and when push comes to shove and I have to choose one or the other, I have more faith in the person who knows how the levers of power work and has the grit to use them than I am about the one who seems to be relying on a "message of hope" to actually get things accomplished.

Posted by: gyrfalcon on January 15, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Yglesias showed a national poll some time back that showed Clinton was generally considered the most liberal Dem candidate and Edwards was considered the most conservative Dem candidate. Obviously both have based their 2007-2008 campaigns on changing those impressions, but how many people pay attention?

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 15, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ben Brackley's point about the blogs is right on. There is really not much evidence in the exit polls that most Edwards voters have the same prefernces and motivations and Edwards supporters on liberal blogs.

If Edwards drops out, then Clinton would probably win even bigger in Super Tuesday states like Oklahoma and Obama might have a harder time winning in Alabama and Georgia. I wonder if Edwards will focus on the South if he decides to stay in the race . . .

Posted by: ikl on January 15, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Mark, true on the watches, but the "running backward" is oh, so much more poetic.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 15, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

"It's not fair to the 99% of us who don't live in Iowa or New Hampshire."

It's more like the 99.99% of us who don't live in Iowa or New Hampshire. There's more registered Democrats in the City of San Francisco than there are in the entire State of New Hampshire. I'm tired of the always-wrong punditocracy once more trying to manipulate a rush to judgment because they want everything wrapped up in a bow within a week so they can rush off and be wrong about something else.

If Clinton and Obama keep pounding on each other, Edwards could be the last man standing. That's fine with me.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on January 15, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ahhh you have discovered the demographic of ME. Edwards supporter, and if he drops out, my vote goes to Hilary not Obama. Never assume.

Posted by: Shrink in sf on January 15, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I would assume that people break towards Clinton because Obama is not a progressive in any sense of the word, except as the me too candidate. Clinton, at least, would make a pass towards progressivism, but Obama wants to fix Social Security and make more tax breaks for the rich....not a good agenda at all

Posted by: Carol on January 15, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

MeLoseBrain?: "The GOP is deathly afraid if Edwards much moreso than Hillary and likely more than Obama."

Unless, of course, its candidate is a despicable, conniving and amoral liar who denies that he ever met him and has a lesbian daughter. Then, Edwards becomes obligingly deferential, like Bambi with Thumper and Flower.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 15, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is way too soon to count Edwards out. And even if he doesn't win the nomination, he has pushed the Democratic rhetoric towards the populist/progressive positions all along, and will continue to do so as long as he stays in the race.

Here in Texas we have our primary March 4, and I'm running for a delegate position as an Edwards supporter. I don't think it will be decided before that. [Note: prediction expires two seconds after posting.] And I still think Edwards is the strongest candidate against McCain.

Once the nominating process is over and the general election begins, I don't expect Huckabee to be the Republican nominee. Huckabee's populist message is a strong draw to his voters, and the refusal of the Republican establishment to even consider nomination him is a strong negative. Once Huckabee drops away, how many of the social Republicans will be willing to abandon the Republican party who disdains them and at least go towards a Democrat with a populist message? ANY Democratic candidate in the general election should go after that pool of potential voters.

They are heavily influenced by their leaders, who may be willing to push primarily for populist positions and respect as religious people instead of just being used. The fragmentation of the Republican religious right is going to present some possible supporters.

Edwards would be a positive to those voters. It'll be interesting to see the polls after the Democratic primary January 26th, a week after the Republican primary in that state.

Edwards should definitely NOT get out of the race anytime soon! He's the Democrat's strongest candidate for the general election.

Posted by: Rick B on January 15, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Considering that we're but two small rural and homogeneously white-bread states into the primary cycle, rumors of John Edwards' political demise are a tad premature, dontcha think?

As much as I would LIKE to think that, that's not really the way things have worked out over the years. Bill Clinton's the only one to lose both Iowa and New Hampshire and still gain his party's nomination, and that was mostly explained by Tom Harkin's home field advantage in Iowa.

Posted by: Quinn on January 15, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards is the progressive candidate. He is talking about important issues and practical remedies. He should run hard as long as he can.

Posted by: Greenjeans on January 15, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Who's the front-runner to join Obama on the Dem ticket if he wins? Why not Edwards?

You think Edwards would be willing to piggy-back his way to the Whitehouse as a VP hopeful one more time? Me neither.

Still, they agree 95% of the time on 73 issues at whereIstand.com (click on my hyperlinked name). That's slightly more than Obama and Clinton (88%), Richardson (79%)or anyone else for that matter.

Posted by: Geoff on January 15, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

oops -- here's the link comparing Edwards to Obama on the issues: http://whereistand.com/BarackObama/JohnEdwards

Posted by: Geoff on January 15, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Mark (2:16 PM)

You do a great imitation of the character Bernard Woolley on "Yes, Minister" played by Derek Fowlds.

Posted by: Rick B on January 15, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards supporters who are voting for "change" might well swing toward Obama, but Edwards voters who are voting their demographic — older, whiter, more blue collar — are likely to swing toward Hillary.

—Kevin Drum

Agree. But I think the biggest advantage of Edwards dropping out would be to get rid of the image of two men ganging up on a woman. I think this image maximizes the impact of gender, independent of the impact of differences in stands on issues.

There's no doubt in my mind that the image of Obama and Edwards teeing off on Hillary -- and her tearing up -- made the difference in New Hampshire. I don't see how Edwards going forward with the argument that "the guys" are for change and "the gal" is for the status quo helps Obama.

On the contrary, I think it is a huge plus for Hillary -- among both women and men.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 15, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards is the only Dem candidate who beats all Republicans in national matchups. The general election electability issue could start to play in upcoming primaries. Also, Edwards is pushing the progressive agenda and forcing the other two candidates to deal with it. So why should he drop out and lose his voice?

Posted by: MaryLou on January 15, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an Edwards supporter who until the last week assumed that my second choice would be Obama, if it didn't look like Edwards could make it. But that's no longer the case. I will probably vote for Hillary in my state's caucus when it is held about 3 weeks from now. The reason for the switch is this; once it started to look like Edwards wouldn't go the distance I started looking at the other two leading candidates much harder and more critically. The reason neither were my first choice is because, from my point of view as a woman from a working class union family, who, as a young teenager was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, participated with members of my church in the March on Washington and other marches in the summer of 1963, and cast my very first presidential vote, in a Democratic primary, for Shirley Chilsom (African American, woman, populist), they are both historic candidates. They are also both centrist, elitely educated meritocrats with only minor policy differences between them, and no real history of strong commitment to labor. So the only differences that led me to first think my vote would go to Obama was this; he said he wouldn't have voted for the war.

So what changed my mind? Focusing on his campaign, and watching him make mistakes that I believe arise from inexperience.

I think he'll be president some day. But I don't think he's ready for it yet.

Posted by: esmense on January 15, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

It's the economy! As things get worse people are going to be frightened and vote for Bill, a known quantity. Let's face it, she is seen as very capable in her own right but also an extension of Bill.

Posted by: LyleW on January 15, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

as an avid Edwards supporter, I will not vote for either Hillary or Obama-If I wanted either of them I would support them NOW-I still believe that Edwards will be the nominee, to the chagrin of corporate Dems(Reid, Pelosi the dlc et all) and all of the Republicans-this is a watershed election-if Edwards isn't the next President, America as we know it is GONE.

Posted by: jeanruss on January 15, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Rick B., sorry, none of the Democrats here in Tejas will get my vote in March. I can't vote, due to our dumb-ass, no, make that, two-party collusional, ballot access laws, if I want to sign the petition to get the Green Party on the ballot in November.

You think you could persuade some state reps and state senators to address that in 2009?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 15, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why should he drop out. 18 ,25, 26 Edwards,Clinton,Obma As delegates go this is a three way tie. You people are such tools,Now stop it damit.

Posted by: john john on January 15, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Thinking that a candidate should exit just to suit the ambitions of another politician does not serve the benefit of the people.

After a disasterous 7 years out of a not so great last 30 years, the people need to be heard. Edwards dropping out would promote "politics as usual". Edwards staying in raises the possibility of a brokered convention with the will of the people, not DC insiders, finally being heard.

Posted by: hells kitchen on January 15, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

More to the point: if neither Clinton nor Obama has a majority of delegates by the convention, a guy with a big block of delegates suddenly has lots of power even if he can't win himself.

Posted by: sburnap on January 15, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Stranger at 2:11. Edwards is the only choice for me; after that it's "none of the above."

Posted by: cek on January 15, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't read through the comments yet - but this kind of analysis (whether Edwards should withdraw or not) are a sure sign that the Democrat-supporters are panicking. If one considers concern for the working poor, then it isn't clear to me at all that Obama scores better than Hillary. I hope Edwards stays in the race. It may well be that he overtakes Obama in the polls before Feb 5th (Nevada, SC), and then he has a realistic chance for the nomination.

Posted by: RS on January 15, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but as a progressive who supports Edwards, I'm moving to Clinton if Edwards drops out. Obama's progressive record is right up there with Chuck Grassley, whereas Clinton's is over 90%.

Posted by: farmboy on January 15, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm supporting Edwards (and fuming about the media-blackout) because of his policies & rhetoric. I don't WANT to give Insurance companies "a seat at the table."

But if I have to hold-my-nose for another candidate, it's going to be a woman.

I've been holding my nose and voting for 2nd & 3rd choice men for 35 years. Maybe by electing a woman -- even one I don't particularly like -- we can open up our options a little for the future.

Or (If Edwards drops out) I just might not vote. I'm a little tired of the whole thing.

Posted by: katiebird on January 15, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and here in Kansas City, where I live, everyone I work with is hoping Edwards stays in long enough for us to vote for him.

WHY the rush to narrow our options?

Posted by: katiebird on January 15, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards has absolutely no motivation whatsoever to drop out of the race. His best shot is to continue to accumulate as many delegates as possible and hope that neither Hillary or Obama reaches 50.1% of the delegates before the convention. This would allow Edwards to become kingmaker and pledge his delegates to whomever offers him the Vice-Presidency (or whatever other position he might want).

Posted by: mfw13 on January 15, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

mfw13 -- that would be wonderful. And maybe with a deadlock, we could Draft Gore.

Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

Posted by: katiebird on January 15, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

FYI, Kevin: The Reno Gazette-Journal poll has it Obama, Clinton, Edwards, in that order, in a statistical dead heat.


Posted by: scruncher on January 15, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards' biggest problem is figuring out who will win the nomination before throwing his support their way. His second biggest problem will be finding something relevant to do afterwards.

Edwards has great ambition, but not enough voters are inspired by his good looks. Edwards lack of actual good works dooms his message to the very people he claims he would help if elected. His attraction to the trappings of wealth and his political calculation to vote for W. Bush's AUF are too much for him to overcome when he competes with Clinton and Obama. Although Clinton voted for the AUF, she is long known for advocating universal healthcare. Obama's platform may be a moderate Republican one, but his message of hope cannot be replicated by Edwards, who cannot compete with Obama's charisma.

People with compensatory personalities do not fare well after a popular defeat. Edwards may have a difficult time after the election, especially if a Democrat wins the presidency.

Posted by: Brojo on January 15, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

But I've been assuming all along that because Edwards was the most progressive najor candidate running, that meant his supporters would likely move toward Obama if he withdrew.

FWIW, that's true of me. I'm about to vote absentee in California, for Edwards. But if he were to withdraw, I'd go Obama.

Posted by: craigie on January 15, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin noted: Gallup's latest poll . . . shows Obama's support unchanged from a week earlier, while Hillary is up and Edwards is down.

A possible explanation is that some of Obama's supporters switched to Hillary (perhaps they previously had reservations about Hillary, but reconsidered after her "tears" moment and/or her win), while a near-equal number of Edwards supporters switched to Obama (realizing that Edwards was not viable and wanting to support a viable non-Hillary, "change" candidate).

This seems reasonably plausible. I, for one, am in the category of "Edwards is my first choice, but with him so far behind, a vote for Edwards is a vote for Hillary, and I prefer Obama over Hillary."

Posted by: CN on January 15, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Note to Dick Morris:

Hey Dick: kiss my ass you insane fucking weirdo. How does a nutcase like Dick Morris presume to give anyone advice? Dick, you're just a fucking moderately successful parasite with a ruined life and a ruined wife. You're in no postion to be lecturing anyone, you mentally ill sack of shit.

Posted by: The Fool on January 15, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards can only be a broker/kingmaker at the convention if he consistently gets over 15 percent of the vote in the primaries. The way the Dem delegates are distributed, if you get 15% of the votes in a primary, you get proportional delegates. If you get below 15%, you get zero delegates.

The latest California poll showed Edwards drawing 10%.

Posted by: CN on January 15, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

"That's very odd since Edwards is the most progressive candidate in the race..."

Edwards is about as progressive as Boss Hogg, his palpable contempt for the voter's intelligence is endearing to those seeking the conservative labor union bureaucrat dominated status quo. If he dropped out and forced his voters to re-evaluate the prospects most would still find Hillary's personality more of a turn-off than Obama's Tongas/GaryHart/BillBradleyism

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 15, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think there's much of an anti-Hillary impetus among Dems, though many of us have other first choices. But to the extent that there is an "anyone but Clinton" bloc, simple game theory suggests that they would already have arrayed themselves around Obama, the most electable alternative coming out of Iowa.

Edwards, by contrast, is almost certainly splitting the "beer track" vote with Senator Clinton. Unless the dynamics change in the near future (as they quite well may), I would expect Clinton to pick up the lion's share of Edwards votes in the event of his withdrawal.

But of course Morris is trolling, attempting to exaggerate the enmity felt among Dems towards the Clintons.

Posted by: kth on January 15, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

If Dick Morris said it, it's wrong.

Posted by: dc blogger on January 15, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Edwardds is staying in because of polls such as these and maybe we Democrats should be paying more attention:


Posted by: Dave on January 15, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

For those of you who claim to know your Bible, how many of each species of animals did Moses bring on the Ark, hmmmmmmm?

Posted by: Tripp on January 15, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards does not owe anything to the other candidates. They are finally having to listen to him, and I believe he will do very well in Nevada and SC and the media will have to lkisten as well. He should stay in at least through Feb. 5.

His supporters who, like me, like his fighting attitude will probably go Hillary's way. To quote the Dixie Chicks, we're not ready to make nice.

Posted by: Dawn on January 15, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

It's obvious enough that there are all manner of anti-Hillary voters among Democratic activists. But I wonder how many such there are among actual Democratic voters. Why should the average Democratic voter harbor a grudge against Hillary? What has she done to them?

If there aren't a sizable number of voters who will vote for anybody but Hillary, then the idea that Edwards is "splitting off" that contingent from Obama is pretty much misconceived. I wonder too if the great majority of whatever voters may exist who hate Hillary have not already made their way into Obama's camp -- clearly he represents the best chance by far of defeating her at this stage.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 15, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: movement conservative shill "minion of rove" / mr. insensitive criticizes someone else for "palpable contempt for the voter's intelligence."

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

pipe dream i know, but if Edward could stay in long enough to steal just enough delegates that a close split between the remaining ones left Hill or Obama shy of %40 then we get a brokered convention and Edwards in a position to make some real demands.

I hope he toughs it out a bit more. We'll see.

Posted by: Trypticon on January 15, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of points:

1. Obama has a pretty progressive voting record for someone being called a conservative. More liberal than Clinton or Edwards in fact (yeah, I know, small sample size for all three of them).

2. Those considering voting for Clinton because of competance would do well to recall her health care fiasco in 1994 - not only did nothing get accomplished, the Democrats lost badly in the fall election. Clinton pretty much stayed away from policy after that disaster. Maybe she learned from this and would do better now. Maybe not. I wouldn't wager much either way. In any case, campaign rhetoric and public image are different from having a record of actually getting stuff done.

Posted by: ikl on January 15, 2008 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards has been the best, most progressive candidate with the only chance to win a general. (I think a lot of people are in for major disappointment who believe otherwise) Unfortunately he has run a totally crappy campaign. Trippi maybe? He could easily have distanced himself from the other two on both policy and maturity and experience but he played second fiddle to Obama. I think he also caused a lot of his supporters, like me, to turn away and start supporting Hillary after his tacky behavior towards her (with the help of the rather nasty Obama) in the last debate. He of course has the opportunity to play the role of the candidate who stayed above the fray in the latest sniping between Obama and Hillary but he just is not a smart campaigner.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 15, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards has to stay in at least till South Carolina, both because it will probably help Obama and because... well he might do well there.

He's obviously pretty frustrated at not being able to break into the Clinton versus Obama narrative, but unless he wins SC or does a close second, the media will continue to ignore him and his candidacy really will be over. He doesn't strike me as a delusional type, so he's probably already looking into the "kingmaker" scenario people have mentioned above.

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 15, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

What I find most disturbing as that the more conservative dems are voting for "the white guy" without even listening to his positions. what the fu*# is wrong with our country? If policy ever ment anything it should now with our deeply divided country. Edwards support should mean more than his race and gender. It's as if the whole country is sleep walking, and only a loud boom or a sever sudden pain will collectively wake us up, like a great depression or decisive military defeat. I fear for the future.

Posted by: gregg leinweber on January 15, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

If Dick Morris says Go, then John Edwards should Stay.

Posted by: reino on January 15, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone counting on Edwards supporters to turn to Obama is probably mistaken. Edwards supporters probably remember some of the rnc slings coming out of Obama like his digs at trial lawyers. Secondly Edwards supporters are probably in general the most likely to follow a candidate based more on substance than emotion and not likely to be drawn to a candidate because they can be riled up by antipathy towards Hillary or fan like adoration of Obama. Hillary may give the big corporations a seat at the table but she is not likely to let them pull a fast one on her.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 15, 2008 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

gregg, The flipside of that is irritating as well. There are liberals who *think* Clinton and Obama are to the left of Edwards. I went to each of their websites and went through all of their major policy points and Edwards had the clearest and most pointed positions, IMO. That's when I decided to vote for him. The crap over "misty-eyed moments" and "racebaiting" is unfortunately just NOISE.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 15, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

He should stay in at least through Feb. 5.

Edwards caved in to that McDonohue religious bully and fired his femminist bloggers early in the campaign. Do not expect Edwards to exhibit any backbone. Maybe that is why the actual blue collar faction does not endorse him.

If policy ever ment anything

Policy is not as meaningful as accomplishment or at least trying to do something. Edwards has no good works to offer as a reason to vote for him. He did nothing as a senator and nothing as a failed VP candidate to demonstrate he will implement the policies he advocates.

Even though Hillary failed to make universal healthcare policy, she tried. That means something when compared to Edwards inability to even start anything. He is too afraid the appearance of failure will taint his chances of becoming president.

The general election electability issue

Edwards, like Gore, would probably not even win his own state's electoral college votes.

Being White, rich, tall and handsome is not enough reason to vote for such an ambitious empty suit who does not work for the policies he advocates and who caves in to criticism from religious nuts.

Posted by: Brojo on January 15, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

The press is Gore-ing Edwards, Kevin, you know it, yet you continue their message. It is a self perpetuating prophecy; Edwards will have a very difficult time getting votes without media exposure, and the media refuses to recognize him because they say he doesn't have enough votes. Maybe that is why he changed his mind on the Hillary comment, he needed to do something to get some media play.

Quit treating Edwards as if he doesn't have a chance just because the media is driving that train.

Are posters here seriously debating which candidate will get votes based on policy? Has anyone here ever seen an election in America mainly driven by policy? I know that takes all the fun out of it, but that is reality in Britney Spears driven America. We just want a dumb President we can have a been with.

Personally, I support Edwards for one reason, and one reason only, who is putting cash in his pocket. The past 8 years has shown the real threat to America is from the wealthy and the corporations. Hillary is the money/establishment candidate. My pecking order is Edwards/Obama/Hillary based on this issue.

Posted by: says you on January 15, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with the Dixie Chicks --
Not ready to make nice. Obama's message leaves something to be desired for me.

And Clinton's record is more progressive than Obama's.

So if Edwards doesn't become viable, I'll go with Clinton.

Posted by: was on January 15, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

This post presumes that Obama is more progressive than Hillary. I don't see it. And Edwards and Obama are as different as black and white, and I don't mean demographically. Obama says we can all work together. Edwards says it's us against them, and they are taking America from us. "We can all work together" is a nice progressive sentiment, but the Edwards supporters know that it isn't true now if it ever was. Hillary knows it isn't true. The question is does Obama know that it isn't true? On policy grounds, I don't see him as progressive, but as reluctant to engage on policy substance. Hillary is progressive except where she needs finance industry money (that's our system) and where she professes to accept the old consensus on American power. Perhaps it is a political choice, since power is the issue most likely to cut against her as a woman. And Obama's kumbaya may also be a political choice to defuse a liability he has as a black man (must not be angry...too threatening!). But I see him as vulnerable to being coopted, blocked, and fooled by the wingers. They'll hang that kumbaya around his neck. They have thrown everything they have at Hillary, and she is still standing. Some of us Edwards supporters want a fighter.

Posted by: Chase on January 15, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Too true, says you. Edwards got Gored bigtime. He also ran a lousy campaign. If he could pull out a win and go after the press for their superficial and biased coverage (people love it when you attack media bias) and point out the differences between himself and the other two - primarily that he is the only one who has a strong record of fighting the powerful and corrupt in a courtroom - well then he might stand a chance. But it seems like some idiot in his campaign is telling him to play second banana to one media politician and attack the other one.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 15, 2008 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Obama the "change" candidate? His positions are actually more centrist than Hillary's. He's the "change" candidate because his last name isn't Clinton, I suppose, which should not follow in a rational world, but here we are. For that matter, I don't understand why there's a supposition Edwards would throw his support behind Obama. Again, Obama is less progressive on the positions than Hillary is. He's loaded up with all those staffers from the uber centrist Daschle, who for years was so despised by the progressive blogosphere that many of them actually cheered when he lost in '04. These same staffers of the hated Daschle now comprise the brain trust of the "change" oriented Obama campaign, the one people are demanding the progressive Edwards support. So many things on the Dem side of this primary make no sense at all, unless you view the whole world through the filter of Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

Posted by: Martin Gale on January 15, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

The upcoming debate on an economic stimilus pack1age should play well for Edwards. The republicans will no doubt see this as one last chance to provide further tax cuts for high enders and corporations, possibly even trying to demand repeal of the estate tax and making Bush's tax cuts for the rich permanent in exchange for supporting any meaningful legislation. If the democrats try the 'let's all work together' approach a la Obama and to a lesser degree Hillary, they lose and Edwards gains because Edwards has it pegged right. It is an economic class struggle that we're engaged in and the American people are slowly waking up to this fact. Hillary and Obama will have to start adopting some of Edward's positions or see him begin to siphon off some of their support.

Posted by: sparky on January 15, 2008 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

I rather think that sburnap @ 3:15 has mentioned the primary and secondary reasons for Edwards to remain in the race.
Primarily (in both contexts), he still has a chance of garnering enough convention votes to throw the convention open.
Secondarily, should he still not become the nominee, he will have a large bloc of delegates to bargain with.
Besides that, there is no reason to quit after very good showings in the first two primaries.

Posted by: Doug on January 15, 2008 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

I found this great article on the topic at www.SAVAGEPOLITICS.com. It raises some great issues. Here is an excerpt:

"For the last couple of days we have heard incessant commentary in the mainstream mediums about the racial issues brought up recently in the Democratic side of this season’s primary elections. This, amongst the vast criticisms that the Clinton campaign has received for supposedly sending out “agents” to spread rumors about Barack Obama’s not too lustrous past, has Hillary’s supporters scrambling for cover. Apparently, or so the press claims, there exists certain knowledge about a candidate’s past that we are not supposed to discuss because they are “insensitive” or “negative”. Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television and supporter of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, recently caught some heat when he made public references to Barack Obama’s past drug use (cocaine and marijuana) for being “ugly” attempts to discredit Obama’s reputation amongst conservative Democrats. Tonight, in Nevada’s Democrat debate, we will probably get to hear these candidates respond to this so-called “mud slinging” charges, which up until now are being leveled against both camps, and probably witness a pathetic “coming together” in which both lead candidates leave all this controversy behind. An act which is only done out of pure self-interest since they both know that this “race and gender” discussion hurts both camps somewhat equally. Once again, instead of witnessing an actual debate on real issues, we will get washed down campaign slogans, ad nauseum. What is the information contained in this Fine Print that the Media keeps pushing us to ignore until the election is over?..." Visit www.SAVAGEPOLITICS.com to see the rest of the article.

Posted by: elsy on January 15, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

please, please, please, for god's sake don't ever quote Dick Morris, don't ever give that wretched virus a breath of fresh air on your blog again. It just sullies everything.

Posted by: secularhuman on January 16, 2008 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

I think to count Edwards out of the race is wrong. You are taking the same stance of all the big-media and making him a non-candidate.

Go Edwards. Run, John, Run

Posted by: don on January 16, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK



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