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BTN: John Edwards

John Edwards exited the Democratic presidential election race today, here's the tale of the tape ...

How he fared: Iowa 30 percent (2nd place, by two-tenths of a percentage point); New Hampshire 17 percent (3rd); Nevada 4 percent (3rd); South Carolina 18 percent (3rd); Florida 14 percent (3rd).

High-point in a Post-ABC national poll: 17 percent in April 2007. His top standing as the Democrats' most electable candidate, a title he tried to claim, was in June, when 26 percent said he had the best shot of winning in November. Two weeks ago, he stood at 10 percent on this measure.

He exits the race better known - both more popular and unpopular - than when he officially entered. In the latest Post-ABC national poll, 57 percent said they have a favorable impression of Edwards, 34 percent held a negative view. In December of 2006, 49 percent viewed him positively, 25 percent unfavorably. (Over that time, the percentage expressing no opinion dropped from 25 to 9 percent.) Characteristic of having run a primary campaign, Edwards's favorabilty rating shot up over the year among Democrats (to 72 percent), while his negative rating among Republicans spiked higher (to 54 percent).

Who supported him, and where might they go?

In some respects, Edwards occupied a middle ground between Clinton and Obama. His supporters in Post-ABC polls prioritized "change," more highly than did Clinton's, but were less apt to do so than Obama's.

But in other areas, the former senator showed unique appeal in the early states. In Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, his supporters were at least twice as likely as his main rivals' to be seeking a candidate who "cares about people like" them. In South Carolina, more than half of Edwards's voters said empathy was the most important quality, and in all four states he won or was competitive among these voters.

And who would win these voters? In the most recent Post-ABC national poll, Clinton had a razor-thin edge over Obama as the candidate who best understands their problems.

There are other signs that Edwards's voters face a tough choice: In South Carolina and Florida, where exit polls asked voters how they'd feel if Clinton or Obama were the nominee, about equal percentages of Edwards's supporters said they'd be content with either. Six in 10 South Carolina voters and nearly half of those in Florida said they'd be satisfied with either candidate.

Despite his campaign's focus on poverty issues, Edwards never had any particular traction among lower income voters. Clinton has had the edge among poorer voters in most early states as well as in national polls.

By Jon Cohen  |  January 30, 2008; 3:47 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Next: Giuliani's exit, and the role of endorsements

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