The Edwards Boomlet

Forgetting for a second that a trial lawyer should do well in system that has candidates go into rooms full of undecided voters and tell them how to vote, John Edwards still has to do well in the South Carolina primary on February 3 in order to sustain his campaign into the spring. And that's a lock for a senator from North Carolina, right? Maybe.

Edwards will have to cope with both Wesley Clark and Al Sharpton in a South Carolina primary that should see heavy African-American participation. Clark is busy making a pitch for black votes in the state and that effort coupled with the state's large defense-connected population could make the retired general attractive at the expense of Edwards. Or not.

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    Palmetto and tarheels don't mix.

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    Personally, I don't see being from a region as particularly helpful. Maybe if you're from that very state people will vote for you, but even one state over, I don't think that has much of an effect. Living in Maryland, I could maybe tell you on senator from Pennsylvania. That's it as far as neighboring state politicians. I just don't think there's much name recognition outside one's own state.

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    Of all the Democratic possibles, Edwards seems least likely to inspire a "Libertarians for X" movement. Edwards cannot clearly be perceived as an anti-war candidate. Gephart and Lieberman could imaginably appeal to Libertarian hawks. Even loonies like Kuchinich and Sharpton fit the script for alienating the Republican congressional caucus...whereas, Edwards can famously charm the bees out of the trees.

    An Edwards nomination means the "Bushitler" cranks go NOTA, or LP, or even Green (if they are Divided-Government theorists).

    In any case-- Bush wins.

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    I fail to see how Clark's pitch for black Southern voters could be anything other than a pitch at the "state's large defense-connected population." Isn't it CW that Clark doesn't know or care about domestic issues?

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    I don't buy the implied assumption that Edwards will have trouble in the North because he's from the South. While many southerners continue to cling to regional animosities, hurting the chances of Dean and Kerry, people from the Northeast have proven to be perfectly happy to vote for Dixie-crats. Some hillbilly from Arkansas did very well in New Hampshire in 92, if I recall.

    Edwards has the best-articulated domestic policy of any of the candidates, and I expect him to at least hold his own in New Hampshire.


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