Who Will Edwards’ Voters Support?
Dana Goldstein has a timely piece in the American Prospect regarding the composition of John Edwards’ supporters, which might help to answer the question of whether Obama or Clinton will gain by his depature from the race:
Intuitively, it makes sense that Edwards supporters would trend toward Obama. Both candidates ran as the anti-Clinton. Edwards even spoke about his own affinity toward Obama’s “change” message at the last New Hampshire debate.
But some polling suggests otherwise. A Jan. 24 Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg News poll found that nationally, Edwards voters prefer Clinton to Obama by a slight margin. She could have an edge among those who are attracted to Edwards’ focus on the economy. “Hillary talks about the economy more than Obama, and she’s connected to the Clinton presidency, which people view as successful on the economic front,” Teixeira said.
“John’s views on trade and tax fairness are just different than what the Clinton administration’s were, so there will be a credibility issue on these matters,” said Leo Hindery, a former telecom executive and the senior economic policy adviser to the Edwards campaign. But most voters don’t have a grasp of the finer policy differences between the Democratic candidates, and low-income voters — those who would be most helped by Edwards’ populist policies — are especially loyal to Clinton. In recent weeks, she has doubled down on that appeal, speaking often about pocketbook issues such as the sub-prime mortgage crisis and health-care costs.
The economy has now eclipsed the Iraq War as voters’ number one concern. It’s a public-opinion shift Edwards partisans believe would have benefited their candidate had it occurred earlier in the primary cycle. They see Obama, too, as a poor general election nominee when it comes to addressing economic insecurities. Working-class voters are skeptical of a message attuned to the outlook of elite young adults, Edwards supporters say. “Barack Obama is talking about hope, but who is he talking to?” noted a senior union official with close ties to the Edwards campaign. “College kids and college-educated people already have hope. The politics of hope is tricky for 37- to 57-year-old working class men.”
Read the whole thing, as I think it’s a pretty good analysis of both who Edwards’ supporters are, and, more importantly, why his campaign failed to catch fire.
Personally, I’m inclined to think that Edwards’ dropping out of the race will give Clinton a slight advantage, which should make next Tuesday a very good day for her, alas.
It’s starting to look like my poor political prognostication powers are in full swing now, because I don’t think that Obama has enough time to campaign enough to make a real difference on Super Tuesday, especially with Edwards now out of the race. With less than a week to go until February 5, the last thing that Obama needs is a whole day of the news cycle devoted to an Edwards post-mortem and Clinton’s Florida victory.