Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Edwards Effect(s)

There's an interesting interview with Joe Trippi, one of John Edwards' chief strategists, at The New Republic. (h/t Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrila.)

There's no doubt the progressive agenda was moved forward in a big way by John Edwards and the campaign. I worry about what would have happened had he not been in. The Clintons might not have proposed a health care plan, because they didn't want the details to be knocked around by an opponent. That's a fact. That's what she was saying in the early stages. He put a universal health care plan out there first; he was the first one, really, with a stimulus plan; with a strong global warming policy, you name it; including pushing her on the war initially when no one would take her on on it. Just about every point, any issue that mattered. Both candidates--Obama and Clinton--were pushed to take stronger progressive positions than either was likely to take.
In his interview, Jow Trippi also had some interesting things to say about Obama versus Clinton:

One of the reasons Obama has to be worried about the California debate is that suddenly there's a celebration going on about how no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, there's going to be big change. Who the hell's spinning that? The Clinton campaign's spinning that line. That's a huge danger for Barack Obama. The Edwards campaign helped define Clinton as the status quo candidate in this race. Left to that definition, the change candidate would win this thing. The Clinton campaign understands that. That's why they're being so, as they always are, so damn efficient. Everyone understands now that, no matter who wins, it's big change. The Obama campaign let that stand. All the way through the California debate, he never challenged her, never said she was status quo. You can already see the problem with us being out. Think about what Edwards would have done--there's no way that would have stood. I'm not getting into their debate strategy. The whole thing is a very dangerous position for Obama to be in. If they're both change candidates, why not vote for her?

In Iowa, we were spending months talking about her being the status quo candidate. Women in Iowa, were saying, "You know, she is [status quo]. I'm not voting for her." She lost women. Lost white women in Iowa. The reason she lost them is because, over that whole period, white women in Iowa were seeing Edwards talk every day, we're making the case. They come to believe that she's carrying Washington's water, not theirs. In New Hampshire we only have five days. We didn't spend a ton of time in New Hampshire. All these women are going to vote for her, they don't know about her taking lobbyists' money. We only do a mild kind of push back, one time in the debate. She is a change candidate in New Hampshire.

All the way to South Carolina, they're doing the old stuff. They're raising the race thing, innuendo. But what is that? The old garbage, not change. Whenever she's the change candidate, she kicks butt. When she's status quo, politics as usual, taking the money, she not only doesn't win, she gets clobbered. So, now--guess what? I don't know what's going to happen Tuesday, we'll see. It's not good to let her be the change candidate.
It's interesting to see how many votes Edwards received in the California primary on Super Tuesday, due mainly to early voting (up to 2,000,000 votes cast early.) How much of an effect did this have on the other two candidates?

There's no easy way to tell what most former Edward supporters have done after he dropped out of the race - choose Obama or Clinton, keep voting for Edwards, or not vote at all. But it's interesting to compare two Gallup/USA Today polls, one from just before Edwards withdrew from the race and the other from a few days ago:

Jan 10-13: Clinton 45% - Obama 33% - Edwards 13%
Jan 31-Feb2: Clinton 45% - Obama 44%

There were numerous factors during that time that might've contributed to Obama's surge: Obama's big win in South Carolina, the Kennedy endorsements, etc. But for the sake of argument, let's say that a good number of Edwards voters have moved over to Obama. (Except, of course, for Paul Krugman.)

Remember, California awards a large number of delegates in a proportional manner by congressional district. Here are some county results that caught my eye:

BUTTE: Clinton 45% - Obama 44% - Edwards 8%
DEL NORTE: Clinton 48% - Obama 40% - Edwards 9%
EL DORADO: Clinton 46% - Obama 43% - Edwards 8%
INYO: Clinton 45% - Obama 42% - Edwards 10%
LASSEN: Clinton 42% - Obama 41% - Edwards 14%
MARIPOSA: Clinton 46% - Obama 41% - Edwards 11%
MODOC: Clinton 45% - Obama 40% - Edwards 12%
PLACER: Clinton 48% - Obama 42% - Edwards 8%
SHASTA: Clinton 47% - Obama 39% - Edwards 11%
SOLANO: Clinton 49% - Obama 45% - Edwards 5%

That's 10 counties out of 58.

Obviously, in the end, it's impossible to know how much effect the early Edwards votes had. But one wonders if this didn't take away from Obama's delegates to some degree.



Liam said...

Wasn't there a big early-voting thing in CA, so that people voted before Edwards got out of the race? Giuliani got a lot of votes as well.

cowboyangel said...

Great, thanks a lot for bringing up a reasonable explanation AFTER I've done all my thinking and writing. Where were you this morning when I needed you to say, "Hey, dumbass, the early voting!"

So, I revised the post from an Edward protest vote angle to the result of early voting angle.

The interview with Trippi is still worth reading. And the numbers for Edwards and their effect on Obama are interesting, even if due to other reasons.

Or did I miss something else completely obvious?

Thank God, you and a few others are the only ones who read this stuff. Imagine handing something like that in to an editor at a newspaper!

Jeff said...

I think there's a lot of merit to this argument, regarding his progressive push to the agenda. I think it's true, and fortunately so. I think Edwards would make a terrific AG!

What do you think of Richardson as a potential VP pick? Have you seen him lately, sporting a new beard? He's looking very natty these days. Relaxed. Not so doddering.