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Wag the Blog: Did Edwards Sink Clinton?

John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton

Democratic presidential hopeful former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., right, responds to a question as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., watches during a Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong).

Re-fighting past political battles won't change the outcome but man is it fun.

Howard Wolfson, former communications director and senior adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton, did a bit of scab-picking earlier this week when he told ABC's Brian Ross and Jake Tapper that the New York senator would be the nominee today if former senator John Edwards's (N.C.) extramarital affair had been exposed last year.

"I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee," Wolfson said. "Our voters and Edwards's voters were the same people. 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."

A look at exit polling out of the Iowa caucuses seems to call that contention into question. Jon Cohen, the Post's in-house pollster, noted in a recent "Behind the Numbers" post that:

"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.

Nor was Clinton the obvious second choice among Edwards supporters in Post-ABC pre-election Iowa caucus polls in July, November or December. In July, for their alternate pick, Iowans split 32 percent for Obama to 30 percent for Clinton. In November, Obama led 43 to 26 percent as backup pick, and he had a slight 37 to 30 percent edge in December."

For this week's Wag the Blog we want your opinion on the debate over what an Edwards-less Iowa would have looked like. And, would a Clinton victory there have secured her the nomination? Why or why not?

Post your thoughts in the comments section. As always, the most insightful takes will be featured in a post of their own later this week.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 14, 2008; 9:28 AM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Next: The Case Against Joe Biden


If you think Bill Richardson is your friend ...
watch your back, for when you least expect it, this Judas is sure to stab you deep, right between your shoulder blades!!!

Posted by: Howard | August 21, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Lynn made an interesting comment about the 'pathology' of John Edwards in all this the last time she was on Abrams.
That word sticks with me, as I was one of the last 50 or so bloggers on the Edwards campaign site, trying to calm down those bashing both of the other candidates. Two 'valentines' had appeared--one for Hillary and one for Barack which bloggers like me objected to as they seemed to threaten those two candidates--guns were pictured in a stick drawing. I was only ONE person, I think, who ended up calling the campaign HQ (on my Blackberry) and demanding they take down the site if they couldn't police it better than that or I would call Secret Service myself. Later that day, Blackberry was 'down' over the Eastern U.S. and the campaign finally announced the site would be down in 24 hours.
Does anyone have the last 2 weeks of the Edwards campaign blog--before it was taken down? Know how we can find it?
It would be very interesting to read the last two weeks of that blog.

Posted by: Seeking the old Edwards blog | August 18, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I would say no. He doesn't help matters for the left side of the aisle by any means but in my opinion it was the people like sean hannity, bill o reilly, and those people who sank hillary. They have some 20 to 30 million listeners on their radio broadcast and their commentaries resonate with people, and no it doesn't matter what you think of them because that is YOUR opinion. This is why they are trying to shut down those stations. You hear them talk all the time about the Free speech of radio stations and what the left is trying to do to get it shut down.

Hillary did what she could do and she fought a tough fight. But if you don't know what these guys have to say maybe you should be listening to the Stop Hillary, Stop Obama Express.

People know about wright, and farakahn and many others Obama coerced with simply because these guys are out there doing the main stream media's job. They are telling what they know because of INVESTIGATION into these candidates backgrounds and they are kind enough to share it with the public. And yes they are on the stop obama express now and people are really listening. They did it to hillary and they will do it to obama.

Your next president?

John McCain

Posted by: Eskiegirl302 | August 16, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

It could have not made a difference. It was the lady campaign manager who was later fired by Hillary who sank Hillary in Iowa by indirectly helping Obama's campaign.Obama will lose the presidency if what I heard is right that she now belongs to Obama's campaign. That woman could not be trusted.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 6:01 AM | Report abuse

Edwards is worst than one of Obama's turds in the morning.

Posted by: Victor Flores | August 15, 2008 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Scrivener - if you're going to cite real clear politics (a very nice aggregator), then let's go into a little detail. The current leaning has Obama up 228 - 163. That has changed relatively little for weeks. C'mon! Virginia polls favorably for Obama. It's a state that hasn't gone blue since 1964. This is by far the most interesting election of my life. The characters have been cast. Hillary got beat fair and square. Al is neither running nor shows the slightest interest of crawling back into the snake pit.

The latest number I heard is that HRC holds about 37% of the delegates. [Source: NPR, though I was waking up at the time.] Take a serious look at the last few months of the race. Obama gradually overtook Clinton in superdelegates. They were breaking for him, not her. If you can name me 10 delegates who are PUBLICLY changing from Obama to Clinton, I'll take you seriously. If not, it's just a fantasy. [It's not the real thing, wooaoaoah, sometimes a fantasy is all you need. Thank you Billy Joel.]

One more thing. Quit claiming that people who disagrees with you are paid for by Obama. You write some good stuff, even if I disagree with it. You shouldn't sink to the lowest level of attacking your opponents rather than answering their arguments. Scriven on a higher level, OK?


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | August 14, 2008 11:54 PM | Report abuse

This comment of Wolfson is nonsense, for several reasons:

Firstly, going into Iowa there were two opponents viing for the Democratic nomination: Clinton, and Anybody but Clinton (ABC). The ABC vote was split between Obama & Edwards. Once Obama won it was clear that he was the ABC candidate, which explains why Edwards numbers dropped off & Obama's rose in the later states.

Secondly, it is clear that they had similar groups of supporters:
Both preached change from the politics of the past (i.e. Clinton). Both were inexperienced & relatively young. Both appealed to men & youth in particular.

Thirdly, an Edwards affair would have reminded people of the less savoury occurences (affairs?!) of the Clinton years. People would have been more hesitant of nominating Bill for 'First Laddie'. Obama would have collected votes from those wanting a clean image from their nominee.

Posted by: JayPe | August 14, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Edwards did help Obama, since he was the better debater and would more directly attack Clinton in the early going. Obama benefitted from having someone else assail HRC while he could hone his "hope" mantra.

If the Edwards affair had been exposed a year ago, Hillary may have benefitted from a reminder to the national conscience of a philanderer-in-chief. But who knows. In the end, it took the Clintons themselves to remind the national conscience of a distasteful, superficial, tabloid presidency that very rarely accomplished the party platform.

Posted by: RJV | August 14, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

If the revelations had become well known at the end of December and Edwards had pulled out, Obama would have trounced Clinton, Richardson and Biden would have done better and a couple days later Obama would have won New Hampshire. He also would have edged Clinton in Nevada and South Carolina would have been the same. It would have been over by Super Tuesday.

If the revelations had become well known in October, then the Obama lead in the polls may have forced Clinton to pull a Kerry and rethink her strategy sooner, ditch the Clinton old-guard that lined up behind her on that Iowa stage on caucus night, and manage to win Iowa in a squeaker. Obama would have fought a great campaign, especially in the caucus states and south, but come up short in the end like almost every other insurgent. However, that is a big maybe scenario.

Posted by: muD | August 14, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

One thing I would like to see are the second choices for Obama and Clinton voters. That may lend or remove credence from the assertion that Clinton and Edwards shared the same voters.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 14, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Who cares, maybe if Clintons Bullsh&j about snipers had come out earlier it would have made difference. Who cares.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

To make this a "Wag the Blog" question implies that there's some level of uncertainty as to the outcome of Iowa if Edwards wasn't present. But there isn't. Obama won it with Edwards in the race, and he probably would have won it by even more if Edwards wasn't in it. That's what the polls show. The only evidence to the contrary is the opinion of a still bitter ex-Clinton employee - far from an impartial source.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | August 14, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The most interesting hypothetical is what if my husband, to make amends for humiliating me with his adulterous craving for oral sex from office tramps, signed legislation on the last day of his administration that made me Queen of the U.S. Everything would have been different.

I disagree with the idea the John Edwards stole my votes in Iowa. It was Obama who took them all.

I will trade you all of the remaining rock salt in my Iowa campaign HQ (I have it rented for a whole year, that's how shrewd I am) in exchange for Fix t-shirts for all my dedicated PUMA followers. Please send 34 of them, size XXXXXXXXXXL. Iowa hogs are not the only thing corn-fed!

Posted by: Hillary Clinton | August 14, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Its so hard to say if without Edwards Clinton would have taken Iowa. I think its a fair description to say that Edwards was most popular with middle-aged males, while Obama was with younger voters, and Clinton with women, and older voters. So the real question in my mind would have been if middle aged men would have warmed up to Clinton or Obama without Edwards being present. On one hand we have Obama, a youthful energetic senator, who has started a cultural movement. I just don't see many 30-40 year old men getting wholeheartedly involved in that type of political campaign. On the other hand Hillary Clinton represented an old politics associated with Bill Clinton, from a time when a Democrat was in the White House. Bill Clinton made the economy flourish, but it has been crystal clear that in the primary you aren't voting for Bill, you are voting for Hill. Would middle aged men vote for Hillary? I don't really think so, and likely not after the crying incident either. So in my non-expert opinion what would have happened? Edwards supports would have stayed home, and Obama would have still won.

Posted by: Andrew | August 14, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

First everyone is judging what would have happen in January by the Candidates as they are today. Let's go back, Candidate Clinton up through Iowa was horrible.

Also, Their strategy was for Edward, Obama and others to split the Aniti-Hillary Vote win Iowa and for everyone else to get on board as the inevitable candidate. Couple that with no message at that point of the campaign and they hadn't gone negative on Obama yet there case is BS. It is more likely that he wins by 15 to 20 points and then pulls off a small to mid size victory in New Hampshire, Nevada and Blow out in South Carolina and then it's over.

John Edwards split the Anti-Hillary vote on those people were neutral till Hillary got on message.

to the republican internet thug - your message is so outlandish, billigerant, and stupid quoting a guy who attacked Obama when an advisor was contacted by the Canadians while Penn's company was paid 300k by the Gov of Columbia and ran a horrible campaign since Hillary didn't seem to make any decisive decisions as someone anyone should give credibility

is showing your ignorance!!!

and as far as the Candidate's Drug use it turns out he didn't do as much as he said he did in his autobiography and in a country where 80% of the people have tried drugs isn't a big deal any more.

Posted by: Michael Templer | August 14, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Thank you dl!!!!

Seriously, until now I saw nothing about Hillary's campaign that was helpful for Democrats and now I do - she kept us from an Edwards nomination and complete disaster!

To Chris' question, there is no way Hillary would have won Iowa as the entrance and exit polls showed. Edwards and Obama were organizing the state; Clinton was over-spending on snow shovels and victory party food. Had Obama won the state with a margin of 47 to 35 or so over Clinton he'd have done much better in NH, SC, and Nevada -- he might have won it earlier!

But maybe, just maybe, the long primary season helped Obama and the Dems because it got them to organize deep into the primary season and states like Indiana, North Carolina, and Montana are now all in play!

In other words, can we let the scab heal and move on please?

Posted by: PeninsulaMatt | August 14, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

One wonders how much respect Clintonistas have for their candidate if they discount her own unequivocal support for Obama (the desire to have a roll-call vote at the convention notwithstanding--and why not?) and her call to all her supporters to get behind the dem. nominee.

It isn't much of a commentary upon her integrity if PUMA's impute to her even more Machiavellian tendencies than she has already shown to suggest that she is waiting to 'pounce.' I prefer to believe that she has spoken, clearly, and I really hope that she takes the opportunity to speak at the convention to help unite the party. She has said she wants to do it and I believe she will do it.

Posted by: dch | August 14, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The numbers are pretty convincing, no Edwards in Iowa would likely have boosted Obama rather than Clinton. It seems like going into Iowa Clinton was still considered the front-runner and the key cleavage in the Iowa race was pro- vs. anti-Clinton; several anti-clintons would therefore split that vote and be to her advantage. However, had Edwards left the race before he did it might have had an impact in other states, most importantly in South Carolina. By the South Carolina primary race had emerged as an important cleavage. Edwards drew a significant number of votes from in particular white working-class men that otherwise likely would have gone to Clinton. Had Clinton won in South Carolina, or had that election been truly close, especially if the vote had been along stark racial lines, Obama would have lost momentum going into super-Tuesday and would have had troubles portraying himself as a post-racial candidate.

Posted by: marten | August 14, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous at 12:41 p.m.:

What is sad is that you really must believe the readers of "The Fix" haven't figured out that you are likely a paid disinformation specialist who is violating some anti-propaganda statute by harassing private citizens on a major U.S. newspaper web site.

The persistent personal attacks, on me and on others here, give you away.

Perhaps you also know who posted the Nazi propaganda from Goebbels to this site last Thursday night.

Maybe when Congress convenes a new set of "Church hearings" we will get to the bottom of this.

Bob Woodward, are you seeing this?

Posted by: scrivener | August 14, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi and the party bosses will not allow Clinton to run. Period. That's been apparent from day one. Why? Probably because Pelosi knows Clinton would never be her dog - but Obama will.

But come November, there will be a lot of hand wringing - racist finger pointing, etc. to explain Obama's loss. But reality is that one only need look at the Dems willing disenfranchisement of Clinton voters, 1/2 of the Dem party!

The Dems will once again have only themselves to blame!

Posted by: Keith | August 14, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Wolfson's assertion is pure conjecture, and reliable polling data shows that it is also likely false. Don't blame him for not being able to understand poll data- he spent months hearing Mark Penn's polling analysis which was notorious for only presenting selected data to advisers that supported his preferred campaign strategy. When you've been part of a campaign that was as dysfunctional as Clinton's and blamed everybody but the campaign, it's no surprise that even after the game's over they're blaming Edwards.

Posted by: sfcpoll | August 14, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I think the HRC camp is digging themselves in. Good luck!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

It is crystal clear how much support Hillary actually has. Just look at how much money she has received since she begged for her supporters to help her retire her debt.

18 Millions of supporters is a lie among many other lies from the Clintons.

People can say all they want others to hear, but it takes some sincerity to open up your wallet to donate even one dollar. This just shows how much Hillary is being loved by her 18 millions of "supporters". She knew well that many of those that voted for her in the primary were from Chaos Movement, because money talks and we haven't heard anything.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting so sick and tired of hearing from, or about the Clintons...I'm just about ready to stick my finger down my throat for some relief!!! My god...if Sen
Biden or Sen Edwards, or Sen Dodd had won
the nomination, would this still be an issue? And for the record, I've been relatively successful in both my athletic and corporate careers and not one to cry
"racism" at the drop of a dime. However, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then it surely is a duck!!! Howard Wolfson and the rest of his ilk (so called
HRC defenders and supporters) know damn well that Edwards' supporters were much more fervently anti-Hillary than Obama why would this man make such an idiotic proposition? Simply because they want to create as much subversive chatter as possible without blantantly appearing to sabotage Obama's chances of winning in November. While I am
a democrat, I think the party leadership are whimps and enablers to the bullshyt the
Clintons continue to spew! And since when did white women become more disenfranchised
than black people! I believe a lot of this
silly backdoor sniping at Obama is rooted more in racist tendencies than just being
HRC supporters. Hell, even she has come out and stated that she is behind Obama...
and yet, some of her supporters turn a deaf
ear to that. Ask yourself why?

Posted by: THE DARK KNIGHT | August 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

scrivener has no life. sad.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

WaPo, are you seeking to get a rise out of some of Hillary's supporters? The convention is near, and you chose to put this up. How about the RNC convention? Why so focused mainly on the Democratic convention?

There's been plenty of debate about these campaigns. Obviously, it was a very close race between Obama and Hillary; supporters on each side were quite passionate especially during that lengthy series. After the fact, Hillary has campaign debt still, and Obama's campaign is and has been well funded; other politicians begun taking notes for future reference, from Obama's campaign. Hillary sure gave a tough battle, for sure. I am still proud that she has symbolically gotten as far as she has, and should be celebrated. However, now is the time to be fruitful at the convention, being functional with the team instead of disruptive in the team. I would like to see a strong and graceful Hillary, do that. I am looking forward to it.

Posted by: Obama2008 | August 14, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Clinton sunk Clinton! The American people see the foolishness of bouncing between two dynasties, Bush/Clinton over four elections.
The American people are not so naive as to believe that a nation of over 300 million can only find leaders from two families. We rejected royalty some time ago along with it's presumed birthright to rule without opposition.
We are the object of ridicule and much humor in the world, as we insist that we are a functioning democratic Republic. What we have is Senators and brothers of Senators and sons of Senators and husbands of Senators and they all consider themselves qualified by virtue of parental or matrimonial lineage. It's a pathetic sight. And the world also sees that it helps a great deal if you're rich In America. The Senate did not become known as the "Millionaire's Club" because it was composed of average citizens. The House of Representatives is not far behind the Senate in its own gathering of millionaires with Pelosi leading the pack. And the people still think that sending millionaires to Washington is the way to get representation. Maybe we're not just a bit naive, maybe, just maybe, we're downright stupid!


Posted by: Doubtom | August 14, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Bill Baar:

May I buy you a drink when I come to town?

This whole thing has been scripted, Obama has agreed to the deal, and he may emerge as POTUS in 2016 -- not bad for a former junkie with only three years' under his belt. (Now for the paid disinformation trolls, be advised, in case you don't get it: that's my opinion.) Here's another:

There is NO WAY Obama will be elected president in 2008. No way. He is unelectable:

Posted by: scrivener | August 14, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Edwards was a joke of a candidate. He had no idea where he stood on any issue and for a brilliant tort lawyer he was completely flummoxed by the TV debate.

The gay marriage question showed how weak a president he would have been. There were two "right" Democratic answers: Kucinich [for it] or Clinton [the US is not ready for that step so her efforts in that area are better spent on stregnthening rights in Civil Unions.

That's it. Edwards stepped on his tongue for a couple of minutes about Jesus and when he realized he's gone too far, claimed that his wife was in favor of it and they'd argue. Truly 2nd rate politician.

What sunk Clinton? MSM needed to beat her up a little for having gotten played so badly by her for so many years.

Clinton herself blew if by not dropping Obama to the canvas in late Nov 2007 after she crippled him in the LV debate and had opened a 25 point lead. She was supposed to hit Obama at that point with everything she had, bounce him and isolate Edwards. Instead, she did NOTHING in December.

Other mistake: Mark Penn who is a great pollster and publicist but can't manage a McDonald's. Penn was actually moonlighting as Clinton's campaign chief while he did his real job at Burson-Marsteller. When Solis-Doyle came up with the idea that it might not be so bad maybe to read the rules of each state and form a strategy with those in mind, Penn, probably not wanting to go to Iowa, overruled Solis-Doyle and then blamed her for the result.

Obama did a great job in figuring out all the little angles embedded in the primary and caucus rules of each state which accounted for his pledged delegate win.

Good, I think Obama may be the best candidate the Democrats have. But I think HRC would have been a little more aggressive over the last 6 weeks.

Also, a lot of people don't like HRC but they're not sure why.

Posted by: DexterManley | August 14, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse


again Clinton's numbers are probably going to depress a lot of PUMA members at the convention. Remember all those supers who had originaly said they would vote for Hillary are almost all now going to vote for Obama.

The disparity in numbers will be striking.

Posted by: dl | August 14, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

In Iowa, HRC didn't win, she didn't placed, she just showed.

When you finish in third place, you need more than one of your opponents bumped out of the way. Instead of blaming John Edwards for the nomination, Howard Wolfson should blame Barack Obama, who stole more of Clinton's votes than anyone.

Posted by: anticlimacus | August 14, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Thats what happens when you are not ready to answer the RED phone at 3:00 a.m !

Too many cooks spoiled Hillary's broth!

Posted by: andrew | August 14, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse


Are you kidding me? Look at the battleground states on RCP. It's dead even. Obama's leads in those states are shrinking, as I said. His vacation week AWOL act is going to cost him further when the next round of polls come out -- that's my prediction. His Georgia performance was less than peachy. McCain out- Commander-in-Chief'ed him big-time.

So he's picking the speakers. Do you notice that they are all mainstream Dems who could just as easily fit into a Gore-Obama scenario, rather than the other way around?

Hillary is holding the cards here. But the Obamanauts ignore the gathering storm. (Although I think Obama is well aware of the threat, which is why he's holed up in Hawaii when even George W. is delaying his vacation.)

You are all in denial. I agree that Hillary won't get the nomination. But it is quite possible that neither will Obama, not for the top slot. He may survive as the VP nominee, and then Hillary can head off to the Supreme Court, because I think she finally realizes that as long as she stays married to Bill, she will never be nominated for the presidency.

Now, if Hillary DIVORCED Bill -- just for appearances, just to prove that she will no longer be saddled by his personal baggage -- she could become POTUS, IMHO. But that's for her to decide.

Posted by: scrivener | August 14, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse


I'm not sure what's more disheartening, the thought that Hillary Clinton is so delusional that she would even THINK there is a chance she could replace Obama at the top of the ticket (for the record I really do NOT believe she harbors such thoughts) or the spectacle of so many "true believers" refusing to take a deep breath and look at this thing with some perspective.

There was arguably a MUCH greater disparity between Bush and Gore in 2000 in terms of policy and competence than there is between Obama and Clinton--Both of whom have life experiences that would prove valuable to either as president an both are committed to the same policies. We were able to get past the dashing of Gore's hopes by one justice on the supreme court and somehow survived (barely) with Bush because at some point, Al Gore said 'it's about the country' not about himself. It is PAST time for passionate supporters of Hillary to stop emulating the likes of Ralph Nader and take a good hard look. One of these two MEN will be president. After 8 years, I cannot believe anyone would allow the Republicans to have ANY more time in the White House. Perhaps there is a putsch in waiting, but this smells like a story Hillaryland is advancing in the hope that they somehow gain traction. Obama has seen this before, dealt with it deftly, and I suspect, will come out of the convention with a very nice bump. Then it will be up to the two picks to get their message out. That is the job at this point and the only important one as far as I am concerned.

Posted by: dch | August 14, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

The political mainstream media has pretty sunk to tabloid media levels. When does listening to one of the campaign architects of Hillary Clinton losing campaign constitutes credible political news?

This is one of the problems with ardent Hillary Clinton supporters like Howard Wolfson, they can't accept blame personally. Instead of reviewing and accepting that Hillary's loss came from the campaign that she ran, people like Wolfson blame the Obama campaign, the DNC, the media, and now John Edwards.

This is a flawed Clintonian view of the world in which America has grown tired of.

Posted by: Obama-Junkie | August 14, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The brutal bottom line is that after 16 years in the national spotlight, 8 years as first lady and 8 years in the Senate, Hillary Clinton could not seal the deal with a majority of caucus voters.

Edwards and Obama were both striking similar themes of change, youthful energy, and on the most important issue, Iraq, they were doves to Senator Clinton's hawk.

Mr. Wolfson may be correct about some shared demographics among Clinton and Edwards supporters, but those were "older" and "pro-union" voters looking for change over experience, a fresh face, and withdrawal from Iraq.

Edwards' early departure would have meant a second place finish for Clinton in Iowa, and a much more respectable showing in South Carolina. In light of this, Mr. Wolfson may be wrong about the caucuses but right about a different overall outcome.

Posted by: Chris D. | August 14, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse


I've thought Gore-Obama the final outcome for a long time...

Posted by: Bill Baar | August 14, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

No, she still would have lost. If anything, an Edwards-less Iowa would have boosted Biden and Richardson in some rural areas where they weren't viable. Hillary Clinton was getting very few second-choice votes.

Posted by: jenny | August 14, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Just as he was during the primary, Howard (Fox) Wolfson is a fount of disinformation.

The obvious fact is that if Edwards had not been in the Iowa contest, Obama would have beaten Clinton by a double digit margin. Edwards voters (including my husband) strongly preferred Obama over Clinton and still do.

Without Edwards around, Obama would have swept to early victories in Iowa and New Hampshire and clinched the nomination on Super Tuesday.

Clinton -- by ignoring the caucus states and underestimating the intellectual skills, political savvy, fundraising chops, and visonary appeal of Obama -- doomed her candidacy. That, plus paying attention to goons like Wolfson and Penn and Bill Clinton, was her downfall.

Posted by: dee | August 14, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I think the most accurate answer is "we'll never know." The revelation of the affair would have been what business textbooks call an 'unfreezing moment,' a moment so dramatic that voters unpredictably re-evaluate their priorities and preferences. Both campaigns would have spun it differently:

Obama: the only viable candidate of change, "Hillary is too polarizing" to win, and "if you think Edwards is bad, have you met Bill?"

Clinton: only viable fighter for the working class, universal healthcare, and play up riskiness of an un-vetted candidate (i.e. "what could come out about Obama?")

What is true is that exit polls don't reflect the uncertainty that would have occurred in this instance and the demographic-driven coalitions had not emerged, so neither of those are predictive.

Still, my gut says Obama. Hillary would've needed 2/3 of Edwards supporters to beat Obama.

Posted by: Dave | August 14, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Wolfson is probably, no, make that possibly correct, but it wouldn't take us 5 minutes to come with another 100 "what if" scenarios that could've changed the outcome just as much. The campaign went the way it did, so other possible alternate realities are moot at this point. The only way I would it was worth pursuing is if John Edwards had campaigned for the express purpose of sabotaging HRC, and that would be a silly idea.

During the late stages of the campaign, I was bothered by what I saw as an "anyone but Hillary" wave of support for Obama. But since the primaries ended, I've changed my mind on that. I still have some misgivings about him, especially his stated belief that we can rise above politics as usual (which strikes me as either disingenuous or breathtakingly naive for a public figure), but it would take a really awful Democratic nominee to make me even consider voting for a Republican in this day and age.

Posted by: Budikavlan | August 14, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Scrivener - give up this fantasy that there is a convention revolt going on. Obama is selecting the speakers. Obama is scheduling the conference. It is a formality. End of story.

Do you bother looking at polls before claiming that Obama is crashing? Guess what. The RCP average has an uptick with McCain having a mini-slide. It's summer season and it means little.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | August 14, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse


I've got to agree with 37th and O -- your ignoring of the gathering revolt of the Hillary forces is stunning and impressive, and not in a good way.

Two hundred superdelegates switching allegiances could give the nomination to Hillary. That's all it takes. With Obama doing a slow and steady pre-convention shrinking act, it's quite possible, if not probable, that another nominee will emerge with the Dem nomination for POTUS. It might not be Hillary, due to her marital baggage -- but she and Bill seem to be back on the warpath and in command of the insurgent forces on the ground.

Hillary is positioned to be the kingmaker at this convention. That could leave Obama as the party's VICE presidential nominee, with Al Gore at the top of the ticket -- to the utter joy and acclaim of the majority of the delegates.

Yesterday I posted links to stories about the Hillaryland revolt, stories that have appeared in recent days in the New York Observer and the Denver Post. The stories quoted real delegates, and reflect a true situation on the ground.

You are the hardest-working political journalist within the Beltway, and your work is almost always spot-on. But on this developing story, you seem to have blinders on -- or you are blinded by a seemingly insurmountable bias toward Obama. I hope the latter is not true.

You have the power of the WaPo behind you. You can pick up the phone and talk to key superdelegates on this Hillary revolt issue. Chris, I must ask you, why have you not done so? Why are you avoiding a real story that in two weeks could burst upon the political landscape like a broken dam?

I'll be watching for your response. Thanks for listening.

BUT WILL THE ELECTION EVEN MATTER? Not when govt-supported "vigilante injustice" squads are bypassing the rule of law on the grassroots level:

Posted by: scrivener | August 14, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Iowa is like a raindrop on the continental divide. A slight change east or west and the water flows in a new direction. Had Hillary won Iowa, she would be the nominee today. I think it would have taken more than an Edwards implosion to make this happen, however.

While Obama's victory in Iowa did not guarantee his future success, it did show voters nationally that he was viable. Young voters, liberals, and the African-American community rallied to Obama after that victory, and that core proved enough to make him the nominee.

Posted by: jxejxe | August 14, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

What's the point? The hindsight thing is really not that much fun. It can go on interminably. What if Al Gore and his Nobel Peace Prize had run? What if Hillary hadn't cried? Obama would have probably won New Hampshire and then things would have never been close. What if Rev. Wright had become an issue much sooner? Would Hillary have surged ahead? What if Rudy spent his millions in the early states? Would McCain have been able compete and make his comeback? What if Osama Bin Ladden is captured or killed before the election? What if Hillary's staff didn't blow off the caucuses because they figured Super Tuesday would clinch the nomination? What if gas falls below $3 a gallon by election day?

Posted by: BadgerOne | August 14, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I am still trying to figure out what Hillary has ever done that qualifies her to be President. She has run nothing, had no responsibilities for any government program, or corporation for that matter, made a mess of her grandiose health-care scheme, and obviously knows nothing of the supply-demand economics that determine the world price of oil. Try a woman who has had real responsibilities, like Nancy Pelosi or Kathleen Sebelius. We do not need more Clintons anytime soon - or ever.

Posted by: Diana | August 14, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

This is Silly Season material. We need a real campaign, so the cable news people have something worthwhile to report and discuss.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | August 14, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Is it me or does the whole Clinton campaign team seem reminiscent of a scene from "A Year Without a Santa Claus",

watching Hillary deal with Penn and Wolfson seemed like , the scenes of Mother Nature trying to handle Her bumbling sons Snow Miser and Heat Miser.

Posted by: dl | August 14, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I live in Iowa and am active in Democratic politics. Hillary lost in Iowa because she had a very poor organization here. Everything was done in a top-down fashion, generally in the most expensive way. She had people on the ground (I live in a small town in one of the corners and she had an office and staff here) but they never made an effort to get integrated into the community like the staff from the Edwards and Obama campaigns did. In this area, which doesn't have a big labor influence, Edwards had most of his support from long-time party people who felt like they had a relationship with him. For most, Obama was a strong second choice--if not Obama, a second choice would be Richardson and/or Biden--both of whom got delegates in my county.

The Clinton campaign suffered here because they didn't invest the time and the work to win. Edwards being out of the race would not have changed that.

Posted by: Sue | August 14, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Senator Clinton has to follow her gut feelings when it comes to public images. I do not like her styles and make-ups: It is not Hillary Clinton. If she needs me, I would volunteer. Styles and make-ups are about identities.

Posted by: premier | August 14, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Edwards sunk Clinton alright, but for VP. There's no way in the world after "infidelity" became a national obsession again that HRC gets the number two slot and we get a week of stories comparing Monica to Hunter.

Posted by: Trevor | August 14, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

While I enjoy far-fetched theories of conspiracy and political double-agents, I think that this is a non-story story.

Hillary Clinton and her mumbling, bumbling, Keystone Cops-wannabe campaign staff (I'm looking at you Penn, Wolfson and Ickes) formed a circular firing squad and placed their candidate squarely in the middle. John Edwards was simply not a factor in her loss in Iowa - or any of the other states in which Barack Obama defeated her.

Oh sure, one could argue - had Edwards not been running in Iowa - that Hillary Clinton's numbers would have been higher. I think that goes without saying. However, when looking at a hypothetical situation like that, it seems only logical that the same would be true for Barack Obama's numbers. The idea that ALL of John Edwards' supporters would have voted for Clinton is preposterous. There would have definitely been a split, and according to one survey ( Edwards' votes would have split in favor of Obama 51 to 32 percent.

But, as I said at the outset -- this is a non-story story. Edwards WAS on the ballot in Iowa. He came in second place to Barack Obama and beat out Hillary Clinton.

But, just for fun (or fright, depending on your outlook), let's say that Hillary Clinton DID win the Iowa primary. How would that have affected the overall primary?

In short, I don't think that it would have.

Granted, it may have given her a boost early on -- particularly in the area of fundraising -- but I think that Barack Obama would still have won his 12 states-in-a-row after Super Tuesday. You can't beat a momentum like that.

In addition, it has become clear that the Clinton campaign had so much infighting that it was doomed from the beginning. Add that factor to the loose cannon that is the former president Bill Clinton, and you have a recipe for a losing campaign.

The bottom line is that the Clinton campaign -- with a hypothetical win in Iowa -- would still have lost the race. Their first and most egregious error was to presume that it would be an easy ride to win the Democratic nomination.

Posted by: The Pajama Pundit | August 14, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

No, because it would have likely meant that a Joe Biden or Bill Richardson would have also garnered more votes. Clinton just wasn't doing well in Iowa, regardless of Edwards.

Posted by: Irishspacemonk | August 14, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

man howard wolfson is a SMART dude that logic transfers to os many other things like wow if only the huns hadnt existed Rome would totaly still rule the world

here is a title for your next book mr wolfson

Howard wolfson, i definatly am not whining like a spoiled brsat on christmas morning because he didnt get that pony he asked for

Posted by: andy rom rockville | August 14, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Wolfson should just shut up. Hillary Clinton destroyed her own prospects and no amount of finger pointing is going to change that. All this playing the blame game, they should be big boys and girls and move on. But no, the anger, the having to blame others, that is the Clinton's main psychopathic trait and they obviously attract those with the same defect to them

Posted by: nclwtk | August 14, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

This is nothing less than the Clinton 2012 campaign's initial strategy -- weaken Obama enough to cause him to lose in 2008.

Posted by: Steve W | August 14, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I was on the ground in Iowa for Bill Richardson. I know from the caucus' I supervised that few if any of the labor supporters, who constituted a surprisingly large group would have gone for HRC. Those precincts where Edwards did not make threshold boosted either Obama or Richardson, not HRC.

Posted by: Frank | August 14, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know who was the second choice for Edwards voters in NH and NV?

Posted by: Andrew | August 14, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

So if Edwards hadn't dropped out would Obama have won 22 primaries in a row instead of just 11 in a row?

Posted by: Andrew | August 14, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

As we all know, Wolfson has proposed a hypothetical, an alternate reality, and then imposed his own opinion upon it. Whether we agree with his opinion is a futile exercise in puffing, but attempting to understand Wolfson and his motivation or thought process might be rewarding. Some possibilities:

1] he believes what he said and was merely expressing himself; or
2] although no longer in the HRC campaign he is agitating for HRC at every turn; or
3] he is excusing himself from responsibility for HRC's loss while he waits patiently for the check; or
4] he is making his agency newsworthy and more attractive for the next potential political client.

Because what bsimon and dl said are the apparent objective realities, my guesses are that "3" or "4" apply - this was spit polish for the tarnished image of Wolfson.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | August 14, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Howard Wolfson is Hillary's version of "Baghdad Bob." He is in denial. Anyway, he sold his soul to the Fox News devil. Enough said.

Of course, if Hillary had defeated Obama in Iowa, she probably would have coasted to the nomination. However, you can do the same kind of "What if..?" analysis of every presidential primary. If Howard Dean had defeated John Kerry in Iowa four years ago, Dean probably would have been the nominee. The examples go on and on.

Posted by: harlemboy | August 14, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

why has the mainstream media left John McCain off the list of adulterous affairs by candidates who have rehabilitated themselves(note bob cesca blog on Huffington Post today)

Posted by: ira lapidus | August 14, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Chris, the Clinton camp wasn't paying attention back in January to what was happening on the ground in Iowa. Why would anyone listen to their spin right now?

As was noted when you were on vacation, Edwards didn't bring Clinton's numbers down - Edwards kept Obama's numbers from the stratosphere. Again, if the Clinton camp had any brains, it would realize that the biggest favor done to it was Edwards sticking around as long as he did. If Obama rolled up the big numbers he would have without Edwards in the game, Team Obama would have gotten an even bigger boost from the Hawkeye State.

But you will never convince the Clintons of that. This is the crew who thought the key to Iowa was stockpiling rocksalt and dispensing free donuts and pizza.

Posted by: bondjedi | August 14, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse


I was wondering when someone would cut and paste that SOS on this board. We've seen it on all the others, so I guess it was inevitable.

The GOP is too lazy to expect you to post something original, huh? You get paid by the post, even to paste the same garbage every day? Don't even have to change any of the words.

Nice work if you can get it, even if it's poisonous to the public debate.

Posted by: JamesCH | August 14, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

to the most recent "anonymous" (my, you get around, don't you!) Reading between the boiler-plate-talking-point lines, I detect a small problem--you accuse democrats of running high deficits when, if I remember correctly, the budget was in balance under dems--until the Republicans got in. Difficulty with math? How about difficulty with reality?

Posted by: dch | August 14, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

The race was always going to come down to the Clinton and the anti-Clinton candidate because she is such a polarizing figure. Wolfson's comments reflect the general assumption in the Clinton camp that the primary would be a coronation for her rather than an actual race. It was that same mentality that led to the lack of organization in post Feb 5th states and ultimately her loss.

Posted by: Meg | August 14, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

The democrats appear to have significant problems with mathematics.

Which is scary.


Next, the democrats keep on proposing MASSIVE GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS which they have no way of paying for except to RAISE TAXES WHICH WILL PLUNGE THIS COUNTRY INTO STAGFLATION.

The democrats are irresponsible people who have horrible math skills. They constantly run budget deficits and their personal corruption runs to new heights every year. The democrats hurt this nation everytime they hold an office.


Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Come On! Are we serious, Hillary lost because she failed to foresee a shift in the desire of the electorate for change, adapt to a new playing field and bring her campaign to gether for the long haul. Despite the two candidates being potentially close, and HRC adopting the populist mantra after Edwards left--his supporters were much more in line with Obama.
Hillary is a great candidate and civil servant but she, her husband, her campaign and her supporters need to take responisibility for the flaws of her campaign and stop trying to blame the loss of "inevitability" on anyone else.

Posted by: chadibuins | August 14, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

and Chris

one more thing sorry

I think the bigger question or statement we should be making now is

"aren't we glad that Clinton ran because Clinton hurt Edwards."

If Clinton hadn't have run Edwards could have likely been the nominee...and where would we be now.

Posted by: dl | August 14, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Correction: Obama won the 72-hour undecideds. But those were the pre-debate undecideds. Clinton won with the 24-hour undecideds, after the post-debate spin.

Posted by: JamesCH | August 14, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Obama's victory in Iowa would have been even bigger than it was. Clinton would have been in real trouble. Just to play along though, assume Clinton does win in a close race. Then we would have missed out on all those Clinton is Toast stories and her single tear moment which fueled her narrow victory in New Hampshire. No media overreaction would have led to no public pushback against the Clinton is Toast line.

Clinton wins Iowa, Obama wins New Hampshire. The parameters of the following races would not have been fundamentally altered either way. Obama would still have won.

Lets not forget the main point: Obama wins in Iowa no matter whether Edwards is in or out. Period.

Posted by: thor | August 14, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse


don't be too fooled Clinton has reservations also about calling the delegates out at the convention...

chances are her numbers will have gone down significantly since the primaries finished.

Remember supers who held on for her ...who put a win first and their loyalty to thwe issues over their loyalty to the Clintons...

now have the ability to vote away from them without fear of consequences...and can endear themselves with Obama and the people who will be leading.

So it is not probably going to be as close as PUMA is trying to portray it.

In fact I would even guess that it is the hand that Obama has not shown yet... that supers are sliding over to him to show a much larger gap than everyone in PUMA wants for their kind of selfish goals.

Posted by: dl | August 14, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"Did Edwards Sink Clinton?"

In a word: No.

In fact, Edwards was good for Clinton.

Why, you ask?

Because he kept Obama from winning Iowa by double digits. When it came to Iowa, Edwards and Obama were battling for the same caucus-goers.

Without Edwards in the picture, Clinton would have lost Iowa by fifteen or more points. The New Hampshire debate that weekend would not have deteriorated into a two-on-one bash fest, and I don't think she would have had any chance of winning.

Remember, her entire margin of victory was the 72-hour undecideds. The debate won it for her, mostly because she was double-teamed, and was able to spin it to her advantage.

She wouldn't have lasted past Feb. 5, and the sexism argument wouldn't have gotten off the ground.

Posted by: JamesCH | August 14, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Clinton lost. Let's move on.

Posted by: Hazel | August 14, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse


What are you talking about - Let's review what is REALLY happening - Hillary is preparing to make her moves at the Convention -

Clearly the Hillary people reason that if Obama suffers a serious setback for instance a tape emerging of his wife doing something completely crazy -

Then Hillary will be standing there to take the cake - however the Hillary people reason that the party may in that situation turn to Edwards.

Therefore in order to head off that possibility Hillary's people have pre-sunk Edwards.

Therefore Hillary is the only potential nominee on the sidelines. It is clear that the Hillary forces have been teaming up with the MCCAIN PEOPLE over the past few months all over the country.



Michigan and Florida still count a half a vote - if Obama's people agree to seat Michigan and Florida at full votes Hillary is so much closer to the nomination like perhapsy 80 Delegates - LET THE GAMES BEGIN !!!


Posted by: 37th&OStreet | August 14, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't Edwards... was Wolfson and Penn that sunk Clinton.

Posted by: dl | August 14, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Clinton sank Clinton. Next topic please.

Posted by: bsimon | August 14, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

More misinformation from the Clinton folks. If Clinton was the second choice for Edwards supporters, why did Obama win nearly a dozen contests in a row after he dropped out?
Edwards probably helped Clinton by splitting the anti-Clinton vote with Obama. Once Edwards was out, Obama starting winning a majority of the vote.

Posted by: Varnson | August 14, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Fun for you, maybe. For most of us it's like someone telling the Titanic survivors "We think we've figured out what happened."

After-the-fact rationalization doesn't move the ball – it just gives losers like Wolfson a little overtime on his fifteen minutes.

Posted by: FlownOver | August 14, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Biden would have done better
Dodd would have done better
Obama would have done better Clinton would have done better...

in that order.

The only thing that this Wolfson thing had in positive and truth ...was it showed he should never work again in any kind of prominent position.

As he ages I am pretty sure he will become Dick Morris. lol

Posted by: dl | August 14, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Hillary supporters are not going to like this, but I have had a sense since last summer that voters were looking for a 'viable' alternative to the presumed 'front-runner'--probably because of a perception of stubbornly high negatives. Edwards was that alternative but Obama's entry in the race seemed to take the steam out his campaign. My guess is Obama would have gotten off to an even faster start if Edwards had bowed out before Iowa.

Posted by: dch | August 14, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

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