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Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Posted: December 12, 2007 11:58 PM

Edwards Is More Electable. Period.


Ok, enough with the BS "let's not talk about electability" idea that seems so prominent in the left-wing blogosphere. This isn't 2004, Kerry isn't the "electable" candidate preparing to cruise himself into the ground. It's almost 2008, we've got a different crop of candidates, and the most electable of the three top candidates is Edwards. This has been clear in poll after poll, the latest of which is CNN's poll, which shows Edwards crushing Republicans.(pdf)

Versus McCain: Clinton loses by 2%, Obama is in a dead heat, and Edwards wins by 8%.

Versus Giuliani: Clinton wins by 6%, Obama by 7%, Edwards wins by 9%.

Versus Romney: Clinton wins by 11%, Obama by 13%, and Edwards wins by 22%.

Versus Huckabee: Clinton wins by 10%, Obama wins by 15%, and Edwards annihilates Huckabee by 25%.

Basically, current polling shows the popularity of the candidates in direct inverse relationship to how well they poll against Republicans in a general. Edwards polls better than Obama who polls better than Clinton.

Edwards is also the most liberal (or progressive, if you prefer) of the three of them. Democratic primary voters are supposed to be left-leaning, but they seem to support the most centrist candidate of the three -- Hilary Clinton, the woman who won't even say she'd shut down torture without exception.

Now, as long as we're talking turkey and breaking taboos, let's say the rest of what needs to be said.

Clinton has the highest negatives of any Democratic candidate, by a large margin. She's also a woman. Everyone plays up how that's an advantage, and sure, Americans claim they'd vote for a woman. But there's a well known polling bias on such social issues: people don't want to say they're sexist on the phone, but we all know sexism hasn't gone away. Some of Clinton's theoretical support in a general election is probably phantom popularity. It might only be a few percent, but given she already has razor thin margins against many Republicans, that could be the difference between victory and ignomious defeat.

And then there's Obama. Bill Clinton wasn't America's first black president. Obama, on the other hand, would like to be. I fully expect a chunk of Obama's support would simply evaporate at the polling station, because a lot of Americans, no matter what they say, aren't voting for a black man. Shoot the messenger if you choose, but everything I know about America tells me America is still riddled with racism.

Edwards is male, southern and telegenic. He has run a populist campaign. He is probably as left wing as someone can be in the US and still run for President. He has been a friend to unions and to the poor. He has had the guts to admit he was wrong on the war and while his anti-war platform isn't as strong as I'd like (he should commit to pull out) it's better than Clinton's or Obama's.

He's electable. Of the big 3 candidates he's the most progressive.

And he's in third place.

This isn't 2004. Voting your beliefs (the poor and middle class are getting screwed) and choosing the most electable candidate aren't in opposition to each other this time.

So what I'm asking Democratic primary voters is to take a good hard look at Edwards again. Stop accepting the media's narrative of Edwards as "the number 3 guy". Look at the numbers, look at his positions and realize that this time you can have it all -- you can have a progressive candidate and you can have a nominee who will absolutely wipe the floor with the Republicans.

Vote your heart, but by all means also vote electability. And don't let political correctness blind you to political realities. Because the country simply cannot afford another 4 years with a Republican president.