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Why John Edwards Can Win The Iowa Caucus

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Despite leading in just 1 of the last 41 public polls conducted of likely Democratic caucus attendees in Iowa since late August 2007, there is reason for John Edwards to be optimistic about his chances of winning the caucuses Thursday night.

First, Edwards' deficit in most of the recent polls has hovered between just 2 and 8 points. In short, he is at the very least on the heels of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Secondly, if the three-way race is close, the redistribution of votes cast for caucus attendees' second choice will likely favor Edwards (this will come into play for those supporters of candidates who did not receive the minimum 15 percent in the first vote—probably supporters of Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd, and Mike Gravel). Despite Kucinich's instructions that his votes go to Barack Obama if he does not reach 15 percent (Kucinich's support hovers around just 1 percent), nearly all public polls show Edwards winning the plurality of this 'recasting' of what could amount to 10 to 20 percent of the caucus vote. For example, CNN's latest poll found Edwards to have a 12-point lead for voters' second choice. In MSNBC/McClatchy's poll, Edwards had an 11-point advantage.

Thirdly, Edwards is polling particularly strong among people over the age of 50—those most likely to attend the caucuses. Obama is polling extremely strong among younger voters—the demographic that is most unreliable in coming out to vote.

Fourthly, Edwards is polling very strong among past caucus voters—another good sign for Edwards that his supporters are more likely to show up. Obama leads among those who have never previously attended a caucus.

Fifthly, Edwards consistently has the highest favorability rating in the Democratic field—people like him, even those that are not planning to vote for him. The latest MSNBC/McClatchy poll gives Edwards a 7-point advantage over Obama in terms of favorability (73 to 66 percent) and a 14-point advantage over Clinton (59 percent).

Sixthly, though unfortunately for Edwards most voters are not aware of this data, Edwards consistently performs the best among the Democratic field in matchups against GOP opponents. In short, he is currently the most electable Democrat.

Lastly, and this is not something captured scientifically in any polling data, but Obama and Clinton have so far been the beneficiaries of the 'celebrity factor;' Edwards has not. It is because Clinton and Obama are like rock stars, especially among the younger sect for Obama, that their polling numbers might be just a bit inflated. For those who plan to attend the caucus, but do not have a history of doing so, telling a pollster you will vote for Obama or Clinton sounds a lot cooler and more hip than saying you're going to vote for Edwards. In the end, Edwards may just pick up some 'soft support' of previously stated Clinton and Obama supporters once the veil of their celebrity is removed during the discussions on caucus night.

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  • Because John Edwards is the real Deal!!!!!

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    Remains of the Data

    No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

    Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

    Political Crumbs

    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


    An Idaho Six Pack

    Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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