Can Edwards Rebound for Real?

by on February 18th, 2004

With Howard Dean out of the race, we now have a true 2-man race for the Democratic nomination. While Wisconsin proves that Kerry is still the legitimate front-runner, the come from behind boost to John Edwards proves that Kerry doesn’t quite have the nomination wrapped up.

The problem for Edwards supporters is, of course, how does Wisconsin translate itself into momentum and votes in the other primaries? And will the Dean voters go to Kerry or Edwards now that he’s out?

My best guess as to the second question is, that as long as Dean doesn’t endorse Edwards, the Dean voters are going to be pretty split on whom they vote for. Some loyalists (if that’s the word!) will probably still vote for Dean, but for the majority, the more traditional Democratic voters who stuck it out with Dean will probably switch to John Kerry, and the mavericks and the more independent Democrats (as well as the Independent and Republican voters who can vote in their state primaries) will go for Edwards. A Dean endorsement for either candidate would probably shift a little support towards the candidate he endorses, but probably not too much to vary the outcome. And since Dean has hinted around that he probably won’t endorse a candidate until the Convention, I’ll believe him.

The first question, the momentum thing, is one of those things you’re really not going to know until it happens (or doesn’t). A somewhat good case (no, it really isn’t, but it’s all I can go on for now) is that some online polls indicate that Edwards is only about two points behind Kerry. You can take that for what it’s worth, but my take is that it means at least some people are starting to pay attention to the Edwards’ campaign, and they like what they see.

Edward E.J. Davis