Frontrunners outshine Edwards

Former North Carolina Senator and 2004 Vice-Presidential nominee seemed like a very strong candidate for our next President. He did all the right things specially his refusal to accept lobbyist or PAC money,and said all the right things. His populist, anti-poverty speeches drew rave reviews. As the primary season ran on, however, things began to change.

Edwards was easily the most pro-labor candidate. He lobbied the group heavily and marched on picket lines across the country. Even so, the major unions refused to endorse a single candidate, allowing individual locals to choose for themselves, and many went to the Obama or Clinton camps.

Most analysts also agreed that Edwards put forth the most comprehensive and effective health care policy. This narrative quickly waned and the new discussion turned to how similar the plans were, basically making it a non-issue.

Edwards lost key Congressional endorsements as well. John Kerry, who put Edwards on the 2004 ticket, sided with Obama. Dennis Kucinich, who was helpful to Edwards that year in Iowa, followed suit. Senator Ted Kennedy has also come out and endorsed Obama.

Some have argued that one reason for Edwards’ decline is a lack of attention from the mainstream media. According to a Google News archive, in multi-candidate headlines Clinton was mentioned 99 percent of the time, Obama 90 percent, and Edwards a paltry 15 percent.

Edwards was treated much better by the netroots, winning every (non-scientific) straw poll of the cycle on the left-leaning blog DailyKos.com. Managing Editor Laura Clawson explains in the blog: “People in the netroots tend to have an anti-establishment viewpoint, and Edwards ran a pretty aggressive, anti-establishment campaign.”

Does this mean that the mainstream media is somehow pro-establishment or biased against Edwards? Not necessarily.

According to Clawson in the DailyKos: “Edwards certainly hasn’t drawn the coverage of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

But it’s kind of a chicken-and-egg problem, since he also hasn’t matched them in fundraising or polling. Would he have done better raising money or in polls if he’d been covered as much by the traditional media? Would he have been covered more by the traditional media if he’d raised more money right out of the gate?”

Clawson also warns that the netroots shouldn’t be assumed as being pro-Edwards: “it’s important to remember that the netroots isn’t a monolith – there are lots of Obama supporters and a fair number of Clinton supporters.”

What all of this means for Edwards’s chances at the nomination is yet to be seen, but it doesn’t look good so far. After a second-place finish in must-win Iowa, Edwards failed to pass third in New Hampshire, Nevada, and his home state of South Carolina.

It seems that even Edwards himself has almost given up on taking the White House. Top-advisor Joe Trippi, however, recently told the Wall Street Journal that Edwards would still play a large role in choosing the nominee: “I think 200 delegates on Feb. 5 is our over-under,” Mr. Trippi said.

Although he continues to insist that Mr. Edwards has a chance at securing the nomination, Mr. Trippi told the Journal it is a long shot.

More probable: arriving at the convention with enough delegates to tip the scales in favor of either Clinton or Obama “Edwards is the primary force keeping Clinton under 50 percent,” Mr. Trippi said. “Worst case? We go to the convention as the peacemaker, kingmaker, whatever you want to call it.”

As Mr. Trippi figures it, if Mr. Edwards gets more than 200 delegates through the Feb. 5 contests – just more than 10 percent of the total 1,700 delegates at stake that day – he has a long-shot chance of playing kingmaker. If he gets 350, Mr. Trippi said Mr. Edwards is almost assured of playing that role.”