Howie Kurtz: Pundits Boost Edwards

The suspense was over in seconds.

As soon as the South Carolina polls closed at 7 p.m., the networks declared John Edwards a comfortable winner in his home state.

But the real suspense was whether the prognosticators would portray the senator’s backyard boost as shaking up the race or just spitting in the face of the Kerry hurricane.

The answer was that they cast their votes, figuratively speaking, for Edwards as a growing political force.

Indeed. And that’s likely the correct spin, although Kerry is clearly the frontrunner. But, if anyone can knock Kerry off–other than Kerry himself–it’s up to Edwards at this point. But he’s already made a minor error:

Edwards … displayed some unfortunate timing. He wanted to come out early and declare victory, since he was the only winner in the only contest the networks had called. But he walked out at 7:58, just as the networks would be projecting results in the states whose polls would close at 8.

CNN, for example, missed the first part of Edwards’s remarks while forecasting Kerry wins in Missouri and Delaware, and a three-way tie in Oklahoma between Edwards, Clark and Kerry.


Kurtz’ colleague Terry Neal has a toast-o-meter style rundown of the Democratic contenders (with much less quality linkage, I’d note).

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Moe Lane says:

    I actually talked a little about Kerry on my own blog, and why this night wasn’t all that for him.

    I’d include a direct link, but I’m feeling enough like a shill as it is. How people barge in and say “Hey! I wrote about this! Link to me and worship my deathless prose!” without dying of embarrassment is beyond me completely.