Edwards out front in Iowa

John  Edwards
While Obama-mania is driving the media nuts, John Edwards is quietly emerging as the anti-Hillary candidate. He is currently leading in Iowa, as of polling from the end of last week. From the Des Moines Register:

John Edwards came out far ahead of the rest of the pack of possible Democratic presidential candidates in a poll of Iowa Democrats conducted in October by an environmental group and released Wednesday.

Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina and the second-place finisher in the 2004 caucuses, was picked as the early preference of 36 percent of likely caucusgoers in the survey.

Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York came in second with 16 percent.

Third was Sen. Barack Obama with 13 percent, and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack trailed in fourth place at 9 percent.

The whole article is here.

The primary calendar favors him tremendously. Here’s how the Edwards campaign envisions him winning the nomination:
1– He continues his strong work in Iowa, lining up endorsements from organized labor, firefighters, etc, and he wins big when the caucuses occur on Monday January 14th, 2008.

2– From Iowa, the campaigns will quickly shift gears to Nevada and New Hampshire, almost simultaneously. Edwards has been working hard for the last two years to build up support in Nevada. He’s supported labor’s efforts to raise the minimum wage, and his populist message, especially after a victory in Iowa, could propel him to a 2nd straight victory.

3– He then moves to New Hampshire, where he hopes to at least lessen the margin of victory for Hillary, where the Clintons are still very popular. If he can play the expectation game right, even a 2nd place finish may provide a boost to his campaign as they move to South Carolina.

4– South Carolina should be a slam dunk for Edwards. Remember 2004’s results?

The two biggest wild cards in all of this are Obama and Gore. If Obama gets in, and if Obama-mania is for real, the scenario outlined above will not play out. A candidate like Obama is all about momentum. If he declares, he probably jumps 10 points in the polls overnight. If he closes on Edwards, the debate will quickly become one about change and the need for a fresh face. If he overtakes Edwards in Iowa, that could, for all intents and purposes, knock Edwards right out of the race, or at least force him to limp into South Carolina where he would hope for a campaign salvaging win.

Gore presents even a bigger challenge to Edwards. The minute Gore enters, the media is going to go berserk with excitement. There’s nothing people like more than a comeback, and a passionate Gore articulating a populist message (like he did in 2000), combined with a thoughtful energy-national security-environmental policy, and with funding from a netroots effort that will make Dean’s 2004 effort look piddly, will absolutely turn 2008 on its head.

Bottom line: Edwards is smart to get in early. He needs to establish himself as a real alternative to Hillary before Obama-mania or Gore-mania, or even worse, Gorbama-mania comes rushing in…..

I personally believe that if Gore gets in, he will be unstoppable. If it’s a three-way race between Edwards/Obama/Hillary, it will be more competitive.

One other interesting tidbit, know who the only Democrat is beating McCain nationally right now? That’s right, it’s Edwards:

In some head-to-head match ups, McCain leads Clinton by four points (47 to 43 percent) and Obama by five points (43 percent to 38 percent). But — in an interesting twist — the Arizona senator trails Edwards by two points (43 percent to 41 percent).

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13 Responses to Edwards out front in Iowa

  1. johncos says:

    I disagree about Gore in 2008. I think that the Democratic base more than anything else wants a winner in the next election. They NEED a winner and Gore, for all his positives, still has LOSER on his resume. While he has been far more energetic, he does not possess anything close to the charisma of Obama or even Hillary in some segments. I think Obama-mania is for real… at least until a Dean-in-Iowa moment happens. Edwards has the war chest, but i’m not sure that Gore does to compete with Hillary. Obama will dominate small donors which the media will gravitate to. Interesting take though

  2. anoodle says:

    The one thing Gore has that Edwards and Obama don’t is the ability to turn on an insane fundraising machine almost instantly. Besides the network of donors who supported him in 2000, and were ready to go again for him in 2004, he has built a ridiculous netroots presence. His endorsement of Dean in 2004 cemented him firmly with the moveon.org/dailykos.com crowd. This is not an insignificant thing– he could combine the Washington hierarchical structure of a typical campaign with the passion and fundraising ability of the netroots like no one else.

    Obama could be that type of candidate, but he’s not there yet. The netroots/small donor crowd is pretty sophisticated. The last thing they are going to do this cycle is hold their nose and work hard for a candidate they are not passionate about (they tried that once with Kerry).

    Edwards is a definite possibility, but my own personal opinion is that Gore presents overall the best chance at winning– whether you look at it from a policy standpoint, or from a fundraising standpoint, or electorally. I can get to 270 with Gore a lot easier than I can with Hillary. Edwards is close.

    Obama is the wild card. If the momentum behind him is real, I think you may be right. If the media decides to tear him down for lack of experience, he’ll be in trouble. At some point the media is going to decide that the only thing they like better than the next great thing is destroying that next great thing.

    Time will tell….

  3. johncos says:

    one thing neither of us mentioned is the possibility of a darkhorse. Obviously we are prognosticating VERY early in the debate, but it’s smart to keep in mind that back in 1990 nobody had heard of Bill Clinton, and even in early 1992 nobody thought he had the gravitas to win the primary.

    The darkhorse to watch is Bill Richardson of New Mexico. Hispanic, great credentials…a little moderate for the left but probably the only guy running (other than maybe Warner) who could take some Southern States, and he’d definitely win the toss up Mountain West states. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a VP nomination…but he’s being quiet about a presidential run.

  4. askewed says:

    So things are so bleak we’re willing to call this charisma?

  5. anoodle says:

    Richardson is an interesting possibility. His profile and resume are great, but in a head-to-head with Clinton, I would think most of the operatives and fundraisers would go with HRC (I’d imagine they are pulling from the same pool of money since Richardson is an ex-Clinton administration official). The one thing he really has going for him is that he’s a governor who managed to gain a lot of foreign policy experience working on international issues (especially Korea).

    I think Bayh’s early exit is a bad sign for anyone who may have fundraising issues, and who is not a huge netroots type of candidate.

    There really are no other governors other than Warner worth mentioning right now, but a dark horse is always a possibility….

    As far as the Obama MNF thing, as crazy as it seems, I actually thought he looked ridiculously presidential for the first 90 % of that skit. And the big smile and sense of humor never hurts in our tv driven culture.

  6. johncos says:

    I completely agree…particularly on the MNF thing.

    It’s funny about Dems dropping out to big money…on the GOP side nobody other than Frist has dropped out even though McCain is the big front runner with Romney in second. Seems like the GOP candidates don’t fear the machine as much as the Dems right now…

    not sure how long that will last

  7. anoodle says:

    It’s interesting– I think the other GOP possibilities know that McCain is vulnerable because a significant portion of the GOP primary voters hates McCain. The media may love him, independents may like him, but the guy who votes in the GOP primary has questions about him. Romney is a bazillionaire so money won’t be an issue for him. I think Rudy is sticking his toe in the water both to raise his profile for a VP slot and to help McCain look more conservative in th eyes of the primary voter. (and he also has a ton of cash which makes money less of an issue for him).

    The one thing about the GOP is they almost always nominate the guy who is deemed to be next in line…..

    Another point about Gore– besides having the fundraising capability, he also is ridiculously wealthy now. He holds board positions with Google and Apple which were basically ways for him to make a ton of cash through investments. He made a ton of cash with his investment firm…..

  8. askewed says:

    MNF – To me he comes off as trying too hard. I thought Kerry felt the same way. Obama didn’t pull off an “every man” vibe. As a matter of fact (ok my opinion) no one comes off well in those MNF intros… they always seem forced. He certainly doesn’t feel “street” and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up coming off as an “Uncle Tom” to the black community. He’s good, better then I’ve seen in some time but not a slam dunk. He can’t be the #1 on the ticket.

    As much as I like Gore he has baggage. Hillary is a woman and she certainly won’t attract more then a handful of Republicans. That’s why a pairing is more important then in recent years (Like anoodle said) The VP needs to fill the holes the Presidential candidate leaves empty. Gore would give Obama the weight he lacks. I actually think Bill would win if he ran again, hell I think we could get a consensus vote to load the planet into a time machine and take us back to 1998. It’s way too risky but I think Gore – Clinton would win in a walk. Hell people voted for Bush’s Kid when they didn’t see anyone they liked better and name recognition really was all he had going.

    I agree with joncos when he said we need a win. However it shakes out we need a slam-dunk, can’t loose candidate. I think that person needs to surface soon and the party needs to “market” him. By the time election night comes the world should be confident that he is the next President, that the vote is but a formality and that it not only the correct decision but the only decision.

    There is a real chance that we spend so much time lining up the perfect ticket that the moment passes. Dems will look indecisive and a Republican will step up… Their guy will be a little less aw shucks, smarter and younger then Bush. He’ll mirror his values and denounce the handling of Iraq. My fear is that, sure right now you can’t find two people that like what Bush has done but in their minds the blame lies squarely with him and his people. They may not care if the next guy is a Republican as long as it isn’t him. Don’t get me wrong Democrats could take this but they have to get a swagger about them and it needs to be sincere.

    To end this up where I started… When you get to the end zone, you have to act like you’ve been there before. And since the midterms we look a lot like the nerdy kid that didn’t expect to have the ball thrown his way and not so much like Jerry Rice. The honeymoon won’t cover the flop sweat forever…

    Now I’ve bummed myself out…

  9. askewed says:

    I want to add something…

    I’ve said this to anoodle before. I was once a Republican. I only miss one thing about being one. Right, wrong or indifferent they take what they want. If Democrats are weak anywhere… we want to be right more then we want to win. We find solace in being smarter and live on righteous indignation when we loose. I do it. I’m only ten seconds from quoting my I.Q. when my neighbor says something stupid like, “I want our President to turn to the Lord first when there is a problem”. Republicans don’t care if they’re right, they’re too busy winning and when they loose… They plot, scheme and claw to get back on top.

    We end up standing on principle while they stand in the White House. Demarcates are seen as the people that get to be in power after Republicans screw everything up so badly no one will vote for them. We’re not the first choice and in a two-way race that means we’re the last choice.

    I had a contractor working in my house last year. Young Evangelical guy. He said he’s “pretty sure Bush lied about sharing his values”. But he still couldn’t say he wouldn’t vote for him again (if he could run). As bad as this war is going/went. You put my contractor in the third pew and bang on his head for the six months leading up to 08′ and he’d vote for anyone they told him to.

    I don’t want my only moral, academic and sanity refuge from now until 2016 to be that I was right but I got out number by the guys that aren’t. I want to win and then I want to do something with it.

    Now anoodle will calm me down…

  10. johncos says:

    I’m not anoodle but for the most part i agree with your point.
    One thing to keep in mind, even though there is a God Gap in this country, and the majority of the country is slightly right of center (slightly), the overwhelming majority of the country believes in basic tenets that Democrats support. They want a higher minimum wage, they want health care coverage, they want secure borders but still to be respected in the international community, they want to afford college, and retirement, they want Africa and America to get rid of the AIDS virus, they want people to be able to experience the American Dream.

    If Democrats stop saying that our opponents are stupid, and telling the people what were not and instead tell what we ARE and what we stand for, then we can win the hearts and minds of the American people as something other than “the other party.”

  11. anoodle says:

    Great discussion. I think we have to take the Democrats’ attitude with a little bit of a grain of salt. I agree completely that we need to be the party that “hands the ball to the ref in the end zone because we’ve been here before”, and so far the party looks almost shocked to be in the position they are in. I think a lot of that will change come January. John is right, the country does agree with the basic tenets the democrats will support. I think this congressional leadership will be smart enough to start small. Sorry to keep using the football analogy, but they will be throwing a lot of short passes and running the ball for 3-4 yards at a clip to build some momentum. Their 100 hour pledge was brilliant. The media and the public are going to want immediate results from the dems, and they will pick a handful of issues that will be lay-ups (ok, switch to hoops for a second) for the congress. The minimum wage will be one– it will get token republican opposition, but no one will want to run in ’08 as being the guy who voted against it. Lowering the interest rate on student loans will be another. Setting up an independent ethics board to oversee congress may be a third, and so on. Then, all of a sudden the story becomes “Look, those democrats are actually getting something done.” You’ll hear left leaning pundits say, “This congress has gotten more done in the first 100 hours than the last one did in two years.” That will be repeated over and over.

    The key is, what do they do after that. And that’s what will matter most for 2008. They have the ability to completely define the terms of the debate for the candidates in 2008. They will be able to introduce legislation and force the GOP to take a stand on it, and possibly vote against it, just like the GOP did to us the last 6 years. Imagine a bill introduced to enact all of the 9/11 commission recommendations, and how powerful of a campaign you could run against someone who voted against it (remember Kerry’s famous quote?). Or how about a bill to scan 100% of the cargo entering our ports? Or a bill to enact the ISG’s recommendations? Or maybe a bill to fully fun No Child Left Behind? The list goes on and on.

    By controlling the legislative reins, the Democrats are in a great position to both advance their agenda and to frame the debate for ’08. Let’s hope they stand up and do it.

  12. Rob Thompson says:

    I don’t think Gore would have nearly the effect that you expect. His negatives are extremely high — two out of three Americans don’t want him to even run for president — and as a campaigner I don’t think he could compete with either Edwards or Obama. His effect likely would only be to undercut Hillary’s support (the Let’s Go Back to the Clinton Era vote would be split).

  13. anoodle says:

    I have to disagree. Not sure where you’re getting the 2 out of 3 americans number. In a recent survey, Gore was rated the most favorably among democratic voters behind only HRC:

    “After Clinton, former vice president Al Gore, who said he won’t run, is rated most favorably, at 74 percent.”

    Once he declares, if he starts sounding like he did in 2000, I could see that number plummeting, but for now, he’s a popular guy.

    The whole article is here….. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=ardUAW.yVBLs

    He’s also very popular among the netroots. Poll after poll on sites like dailykos put Gore way ahead when he’s included.

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