The most common conclusion from last night's NH primary was that a poll can be wrong even when it is an average of 10 other polls, all with small margins of error. But I drew a second conclusion from last night's primary, which was that if Edwards wants change in Washington as he says he does, he should now quit the race.
Edwards earned less than half the votes that Obama and Clinton each earned. Edwards is no longer in the top-tier candidate and his chances of winning the nomination - or the general election - at this point are close to none because of his narrow message and lack of appeal to independents.
The reason for this is that he has been in the public scene for years and people know everything about his life. They have also heard his message of having a radical anti-corporation approach to addressing problems, and you know what? His message and approach are not resonating with people. If he was a new candidate with a fresh face, I would have still thought that he may be able to rebrand himself with a new message and expand his appeal. But there is nothing more there. He has been in the public arena for years and there is nothing else about him that can possibly seem refreshing. Over the past few years, we have seen everything that Edwards has been and can be, and it is not going to get us the White House.
So then the question becomes, does he mean it when he says this election is about change and America and not about him? In the NH debate last Saturday, he made it clear that he found his philosophy of change very close to Obama's and radically different than Hillary's, whom he referred to as "forces of status quo." But what he has to acknowledge is that while his own campaign doesn't seem to be going anywhere at this point with no money or prospects of raising any, his staying in the race will only take away votes that would most likely go to Obama and help him win the nomination over those forces of status quo and establishment.
If John Edwards stays in the race, his chances for winning will most likely not be any better than they are today. But his very stay will split the change vote, which would potentially leave Hillary as the winner. So if Edwards is sincere about doing what's best to bring about fundamental change, he must now give up his run.