The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


The Pollster

Iowa Without Edwards

Supporters of Democratic Presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-NC) are see before the start 30th annual Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa September 16, 2007. (Reuters)

By Jon Cohen
Would Hillary Clinton have won Iowa if John Edwards had been forced out of the race? Howard Wolfson thinks so.

Wolfson, former director of communications for Clinton's presidential bid, suggested to ABC News that the New York senator would have prevailed in Iowa had Edwards been forced from the race before voting started in early January.

"Our voters and Edwards' voters were the same people," Wolfson told ABC. "They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama."

It is a pure hypothetical, of course, and the entire dynamics of the contest would have been different without Edwards. But the public data do not bolster the notion that Clinton would have won.

In the networks' Iowa entrance poll, 43 percent of those who went to a caucus to support Edwards said Obama was their second choice, far fewer, 24 percent said they would support Clinton if their top choice did not garner enough votes at that location. The remainder of Edwards' backers said they would be uncommitted under such a scenario, offered no second choice or said they preferred someone else.

Continue reading at Behind the Numbers»

Posted at 11:28 AM ET on Aug 11, 2008  | Category:  The Pollster
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Not even Cindy or Meghan McCain?! Seriously, though, no one is saying we can change history. What would have happened to Obama back in Iowa, though, may be a bit important to more than a few super delegates who are watching Obama's current polling numbers and wondering what they don't know about him too (as I told you on the other thread, I hope he stumbles badly this Saturday ; )

Posted by: JakeD | August 11, 2008 8:53 PM

YOU CANT CHANGE HISTORY people. The only reason for this tack is to get the focus off of the fact that McC did the same thing as Edwards only the Edwards worked out their differences. Hillary supporters need to look into the sexist behavior of McC. No woman in America should vote for him.

Posted by: Lynne | August 11, 2008 8:44 PM


It's not "over" until he officially accepts the nomination -- even then, it's not really "over" -- remember what happened to RFK?

Posted by: JakeD | August 11, 2008 7:58 PM

Oh God, here we go again: Hillary's mathematics on why she belongs there. I'm really sick of this stuff. It's over, let's move on folks.

Posted by: Arzoff | August 11, 2008 7:45 PM


Perhaps. But, we'll never know because the MSM failed to do its job properly. Have you reviewed the comments section on the other thread? Would you agree, at the very least, that Obama would have been in a weaker position going into New Hampshire and, therefore, Super Tuesday had Hillary managed to beat him in Iowa? Depending on how / when Edwards had pulled out, maybe she wouldn't have needed a plan after February 5th.

Posted by: JakeD | August 11, 2008 7:40 PM

The candidacy of John Edwards served as a firewall protecting Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama from the other candidates such as Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden. Edwards had name ID but he had a ceiling in the mid-teens of his support. The highest Edwards ever got in the polls was in the low twenties after the dramatic joint annoucement by John and Elizabeth Edwards that her cancer had returned.

These were national polls and Edwards did better in Iowa. But the Edwards campaign made it hard for the others to get traction although Richardson closed in on Edwards at one point but he did not have the money to keep it going.

In Iowa the younger Edwards supporters may have gone to Obama while the older union types may have gone to Clinton. Who knows who would have won though it would have been hard to stop the enthusiasm for Obama that existed in Iowa at the time.

At any rate, Howard Wolfson's opinion on this sounds a lotlike sour grapes and an attempt to deflect attention away from a Clinton campaign that made many mistakes such as not having a campaign plan for the aftermath of Super Tuesday and skipping the other caucus states.

Posted by: danielhancock | August 11, 2008 7:22 PM

At the very least, Hillary wouldn't have come in third in Iowa ; )

Posted by: JakeD | August 11, 2008 7:12 PM

Much better discussion about the possibilities if Edwards had dropped out before Iowa, over here:

Posted by: JakeD | August 11, 2008 7:08 PM

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