Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | June 09, 2003

How they could win: Edwards

Welcome to this six-part series "how they can win", featuring the six "serious" candidates: Dean, Edwards, Gephardt, Graham, Kerry and Lieberman.

For purposes of this scenario building, I'm assuming all six candidates are running strong, without the presence of a major scandal or foot-in-mouth incident.

Today we do Edwards, who is doing surprisingly poorly in all current polls. However, no deficit at this stage of the game is insurmountable. The guy has the ability to turn it on when he seems most out of it, and I'm not ready to count him out.

So for Edwards to win, it's going to have to look something like this:

Iowa: 1.19
Obviously a top finish in Iowa would provide a solid boost. Iowa is all about expectations, and no one expects him to place in the top three (which should go to Gephardt, Dean and Kerry, not necessarily in that order). If he pushed his way into the top slots, he would rocket to the lead in the "expectations" game (which the press loves to play).

But to be realistic, Edwards won't place, and he doesn't have to. That 4th place slot will be important (remember, it's about expectations). Edwards must defeat Lieberman and Graham (his nearest foes on the party's "centerist" flank) and the fringe candidates to maintain some semblance of viability.

New Hampshire: 1.27
Edwards, again, must play the expectations game. Everyone assumes Dean and Kerry will be fighting tooth and nail for this state. They will take the top two slots.

So the real battle will be for the third and fourth slots. And, like in Iowa, he will have to defeat both Lieberman and Graham.

South Carolina, Delaware, Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma: 2.2
This is Edward's Big Stand. He must win a plurality of these states to remain viable, lest he lose the media, donors, and voters looking to hitch their wagon to a "winner". These states will be generally hostile to Dean and Kerry (except, perhaps, New Mexico). This will be where Lieberman, Graham and Edwards will have to show strength. If Edwards loses, he has two endure certain loses in the next three states before reaching friendlier territory.

Michigan, Washington: 2.7
Washington will go to one of the "liberal" candidates, while Michigan will be Gephardt territory unless he's been knocked out at this point. In case of Gephardt's absence, it would most likely be Kerry or Dean territory. Nothing doing for Edwards here.

Maine: 2.8
Maine will go to either Kerry or Dean. Nothing doing here unless Gephardt is still in this thing. If so, Edwards may be able to slip through, though unlikely (and not really relevant to the ultimate outcome).

Virginia, District of Columbia, Tennessee (maybe): 2.10
A weakened Edwards, having lost the Feb. 2 round of primaries, would have to make a last stand in Virginia and Tennessee (if TN's primary, which is still up in the air, is moved up this early). Victories here would breathe new life into his campaign.

However, the "centrist" DLC-type winner of the Feb. 2 primaries will be carrying irresistable momentum at this point, making it harder for the loser to make any new headway here. Add in the media's irresistable need to cull the field to simplify the race's dynamics (and lower costs), and it seems unlikely Edwards could turn things around at this point.

If Edwards wins the Feb. 2 primaries, this should be a happy day for his campaign.

Wisconsin: 2.17
Same as Maine.

Idaho: 2.24 and Utah: 2.27
This is firm ground for Edwards, but only if he's still in the race. By this point, the CW has already annointed the "centrist" candidate. It's too late to attempt a comeback. And given that the first Super Tuesday is heavily weighted toward "liberal" states, it's clear that there's no way anyone would suffer a limping Edwards candidacy by this point.

If he's the Feb. 2 winner he's happily ignoring these states, focusing the entire bulk of his resources and energy on:

California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, North Dakota, Washington: 3.2
A strong Edwards, at this point, is in a bind. He'll probably be facing either Dean, Kerry, or Gephardt (there's only room for two). And given the states this day, Edwards would (at first blush) be hard-pressed to win very much. His toughest opponent would probably be Gephardt, who could probably take ND and maybe either GA from Edwards, as well as all the left-leaning states. Thus, if Gep is still in the game, Edwards is toast. With either of the other two candidates, Edwards can take GA and ND, but would still have to find a way to be competitive in powerhouse California. A blow out on March 2 would be crippling.

At this point, the press is no longer playing the expectation games. Rather, we have a good ol' fashioned horse race. 1,261 committed delegates are at stake March 2 out of a total of 3,520 -- fully 35 percent of the total number. You only need to get to 50 percent plus one to win. (Of course, that doesn't include Super Delegates, but they will not tilt the nomination away from the popularly elected candidate. Another post about those guys will be forthcoming.)

Also note that on March 3rd, over half the delegates will be selected. Given that several candidates will split the delegate totals from each state, we may not have a nominee by now, but it will be so close and so obvious that everyone will be able to identify the winner. This election won't make it to the southern primaries on March 9.

Bottom line: To win, Edwards has to avoid embarrassing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire (like coming below Kucinich or Sharpton). He has to "win" the Feb 2 primaries. He can split the mid-February primaries with little effect on the race, one way or another.

But, perhaps most difficult of all, he has to win March 2. There's no way he'll be able to make it to the Southern Super Tuesday (a week later) if he's blown away this day. If he wins Feb. 2, and matches or outperforms his opponent on March 2, he is the Democratic Party nominee.

Posted June 09, 2003 05:21 AM | Comments (88)


Bush Administration
Business and Economy
Foreign Policy

© 2002. Steal all you want.
(For non-commercial use, that is.)