Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What Edwards' Exit Means to Hil and Obama

Sully channels TPM in thinking that Edwards lack of endorsement for Obama is an implict endorsement of Hillary:

"By not endorsing Obama, Edwards is effectively aiding Clinton. This comment on a TPM discussion thread stood out:

"By withdrawing from the race, Edwards changes the dynamic in Congressional Districts with odd numbers of delegates. It used to be that just about wherever he cracked 15%, Hillary and Obama would split the same number of delegates (1-1, 2-2, etc.) and Edwards would walk away with a single delegate. Now, in an odd numbered district, the winner will always take more delegates.

"So do the math. Edwards is most likely to crack 15% in heavily-white, largely poor areas. Who gains a delegate there? He was least likely to draw threshold support in heavily-black areas. So who does his withdrawal fail to benefit?

"I wish it were otherwise. But the bottom line is that 15% of the vote for Edwards almost always helped Obama more than adding that same 15% of the vote to his own tally.

"Of course, focusing the entire Super Tuesday on a clear Obama-Clinton choice might also rally all the anti-Clinton feeling behind one candidate. I'd be lying if I said I had a clear idea what will happen."

That sounds all well in good, but my gut (wishful thinking?) leads me to a slightly different conclusion. Without an explicit endorsement, the Edwards vote will undoubtedly be tighter, but where it would matter most--white men--Obama I think has a slight advantage. Partly it would be sexism, I think that an average Edwards male supporter wants a man in office, but mostly it's the fact that Edwards and Obama's message has more in common that Edwards and Hil. I see them as more Ted Kennedy then Gloria Steinem; academic progressives and liberals who, for better lack of a term, want to 'feel the dream'. Edwards might have garnered their support because of his liberal, populist views and his underdog status, so when he leaves what canidate left falls in that category?

Of course this is seat of your pants precognition, I could be wrong, but I like to go with my gut. And don't think that it's going to be overwhelming even if I'm right. Without an endorsement I think, at best, Obama would split that white male vote, which is good but the real key to an Obama victory on Super Tuesday is really going to have to come from the Latino vote if he can hold white males, keep the black vote and keep white women at a 15 to 20% level.

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