Web Roundup: The Post-Edwards Era
With the departure of John Edwards from the race for the Democratic nomination yesterday, the focus now turns to how the vacuum left by his campaign will affect the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. First there is the question of delegates, which turns out to be the easiest puzzle to solve. According to the Democratic Convention Watch blog, all of Edwards' uncommitted superdelegates (27) will go back to a "no endorsement" pool. Edwards' delegates from the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries (12) will revert to uncommitted, while his caucus delegates from Iowa (17) will be reallocated to Obama and Clinton proportionately, based on their performance in those events.
The more important consequence of Edward's departure is where his supporters will go. Here, demographics appear decisive, yet inconclusive. A Times article yesterday on Southern Super Tuesday states notes widespread reluctance amongst white voters in these states to support Obama's campaign, although this doesn't automatically translate into support for Clinton.
Meanwhile, John Judis notes the significance of voters' age in determining candidate support. Older voters tended to support Edwards, he notes, which should translate into support for Clinton, given her past performance among older voters. And among "moderates" in New Hampshire, there appears to have been greater support for Obama than Clinton, based on a 19-point difference in disapproval ratings.
The exit polls in Florida might provide the most diverse demographic information, although it is unclear how voters in the Sunshine State were affected by the ongoing dispute between the state party and the DNC over the delegate slate. Given that turnout was quite high, however, these statistics would appear to have some value. Chris Cillizza notes that Edwards supporters are evenly divided on who to support next. Sixty percent of these supporters would be "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with Clinton, while 66 percent expressed the same sentiment for Obama.
All of this uncertainty might hinge on an Edwards endorsement, which could come before Super Tuesday, according to numerous reports. For now, Edwards has only sought a promise from Obama and Clinton to keep the issue of poverty front and center during the campaign, which each candidate readily accepted. According to Greg Sargent, though, the endorsement is highly coveted:
Top Edwards adviser Joe Trippi just confirmed to me by phone that the Hillary and Obama campaigns are already working overtime to woo Edwards to their sides -- even before his official dropout speech.
"They're banging down the doors," Trippi told me.
Whether these questions are resolved before February 5 or because of it, the new dynamics of a two-person race depend on who Edwards endorses. It does not seem likely that he will endorse Clinton, based on their past differences, which suggests that his dropping out before February 5 is meant to maximize his influence over the news cycle, should he endorse Obama. Whether an Edwards endorsement of Obama would substantially boost the latter's campaign is debatable, but it might prove decisive to marooned Edwards supporters, who are looking for someone new to back on the road to the White House.
Cross-posted, in slightly modified form, at TAPPED.