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January 31st, 2008
08:53 AM ET

Edwards' departure, and what it means for Clinton and Obama

After the Iowa caucuses earlier this month,  The Wall Street Journal did a poll asking about Clinton, Edwards and Obama.  Then they did something interesting: they took Edwards out of the equation, just as Edwards has now done himself.

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Former Sen. John Edwards ended his presidential bid on Wednesday.

What happened?  Clinton and Obama both picked up five or six points.  Will we have a split decision now, too?  Maybe.  But a lot has happened since that poll.

Pro-Obama types say Edwards voters are "change" voters.  Ergo, Obama voters.  But you might get a different answer if you look at Edwards' base of support.

They tend to be less educated (less than the average Obama voter, anyway),  rural,  working class,  union.  That sounds like Clinton voters. 

Now, Edwards had said he was in the race until the convention.  So what happened?

Elizabeth Edwards was instrumental in his decision to get into the race, and to stay in the race after she was diagnosed with cancer.  And she was instrumental in this decision, too.  Why did he drop out now?

After the South Carolina primary, where he underperformed,  Edwards went home to North Carolina on Sunday night. Monday, they had a big strategy (conference call) meeting in camp Edwards.  They talked about how they could pick up 200 delegates on Super Tuesday, where they would go to do that.

All the strategists and top aides came away from that thinking,  OK,  full throttle. But on Tuesday, "something happened."  His advisers tell me it was "organic."  Edwards went with his "gut."

He talked to Obama and Clinton and said he was thinking about dropping out and would they pledge to make anti-poverty a part of their campaign agenda?  Yes. And it was over. No big meetings, no grand strategy session, aides say. Just Edwards, who called his top people and told them, "Here's what I'm doing."

Edwards made the decision..

The loneliest time of any campaign.

–Candy Crowley, CNN Senior Political Correspondent 


Filed under: Barack Obama • Candy Crowley • Hillary Clinton • John Edwards • Raw Politics
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