Edwards Playing Leapfrog

The latest news out of Iowa, from Southern Political Reporter, sounds hopeful for John Edwards ...

John Edwards has leapfrogged over his rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and leads the Democratic field in Iowa, according to the latest InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion poll. In the Republican caucus race, Mike Huckabee continues to hold a narrow lead over Mitt Romney ...

Edwards leads with 30 percent in a poll of Democratic voters who said they intend to participate in the Jan. 3 presidential caucuses, followed by Clinton with 26 percent and Obama with 24 percent. When the sample was narrowed to the most likely caucus-goers, based on several questions, Obama leads Edwards by less than a percentage point with 27 percent, with Clinton in third place at 24 percent.

Why the sudden jump? Looks like Edwards is favored by those folks who don't particularly like the top three candidates. In other words, for this group of voters, Edwards seems to be the least offensive.

Edwards holds a significant advantage, however, among a group who could be key to the first contest of the presidential year: those who say their first choice is someone other than the top three. Under Iowa Democratic Party rules, candidates who poll less than 15 percent in the first vote at each caucus around the state are eliminated, and their supporters get a second chance to vote for another candidate.

I realize that polls don't mean that much, but this news excites me. I find myself daring to be hopeful again.

A number of recent surveys have shown that Edwards does best among Democratic candidates when facing the Republican field. Neither Clinton nor Obama do quite as well, depending on who the competition is. Apart from his message—which inspires me like I've not been inspired by a politician in a while and helps keeps my latent cynicism at bay—electability in itself seems like a persuasive reason to support John Edwards. Maybe I'm just being simple-minded about that, but the threat of four more years of Republicans in the White House frankly scares the hell out of me. President Romney? or President Giuliani? or President Huckabee for chrissake?! God help us.

Comments

Yeah, a Republican President scares the crap

out of me. I could do with 16 years of Democrats.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I don't trust polls

I know just enough about statistics to know that they can be spun any way you want them to be spun. I still think Iowa is any of the "big three's" to win. If I were there, I'd caucus for Edwards. My second choice would be Obama. If Clinton comes out with a win - we'll still be in good shape, because 1) it's just Iowa, and 2) I still think we're looking at a Democratic win in November. I don't plan to sit back and relax and bank on that, but that's what I think.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Granted

polls in themselves don't mean that much—just consider the exit polling from the 2004 general election that was all but claiming victory for Kerry. And yes, stats can be misused; as one who has done research I know that most of the time the answer you get depends on how you ask the question. What I find hopeful about this news, however, is the 15% limit in Iowa's Democratic Party rules and the news that Edwards seems to be a favorite among second choice voters. A win in Iowa in and of itself may not mean much, given that other states don't have this second choice rule, but it would mean positive exposure and the possibility for momentum for the Edwards campaign. For good or ill (and here's the cynic in me coming out), perception is important; if people perceive Edwards as a potential winner they're likely to give him another look/listen. Given that the MSM has pretty much settled on a Clinton-Obama campaign, that kind of exposure for Edwards is a positive. I would love to see the MSM give him the same attention/coverage they give Obama and Clinton.

Polls in December are really tricky

You end up getting very skewed results with people being out of town for the holidays, and people having much different schedules than they do during the year, making it difficult to reach them at home.

I'm a big fan of pollster.com's "poll of polls" for all the various caucuses. The trends there jibe with what we're hearing on the blogs and from the newspapers out of Iowa -- Clinton is falling, Obama had a big surge over the past month, and Edwards is also gaining steam.

I'm not sure what I'd like to happen. Ideally, I'd like to see Clinton come in a weak third in Iowa and take serious hits in New Hampshire and South Carolina, so that we round into February with a two-way race between Obama and Edwards. Failing that, though, I'd rather see Edwards knocked out early so the anti-Clinton forces can consolidate around Obama. I mostly don't want Obama and Edwards to divide the anti-Clinton vote and let her squeak through to a weak nomination.

Exactly.

I mostly don't want Obama and Edwards to divide the anti-Clinton vote and let her squeak through to a weak nomination.

Which is what I'm afraid will happen. If you combine Obama's and Edwards supporters, there's no way Hillary would be our candidate.

Left on 49

I don't think it will happen.

I think it will be either/or. Edwards' supporters are far more likely to go to Obama than they are to Clinton, and vice versa, should one of them drop out. And that's they key right there. For both of them to hold on long enough to make sure that if one left, their supporters would go to the other. (why yes, yes, I'm playing Leo McGarry, do you mind?)


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi