Iowa Poll Suggests Serious Trouble For Edwards, Hope for Richardson

I am hesitant to make very much out of polls this far before the Iowa caucus as so many voters decide in the final twenty-four hours before voting, but this new ARG Poll does contain some very bad news for John Edwards as well as some good news for Bill Richardson in Iowa.

Edwards has based his campaign on virtually living in Iowa since 2005, hoping that a win there could allow him to repeat John Kerry’s path to victory. This strategy was always faulty since everyone knew his strategy, and only a landslide victory would be likely to give Edwards a bounce. Edwards also faced the problem that, while Iowa might back a populist candidate such as him, his chances are much poorer than Kerry’s in the northeast, including New Hampshire.

In many ways John Edwards in 2007 is much like Joe Lieberman in 2003. Both received enough name recognition from running for Vice President to do well in early polls due to name recognition. There are, of course, distinct differences between the two. While Lieberman stuck to his unpopular views on the war, John Edwards learned he was wrong and changed his position. His change of heart would be more convincing if he hadn’t also changed his position on more issues than Multiple Choice Mitt Romney. The other difference is that, while we might disagree with him on the issues, Joe Lieberman was far more experienced and qualified than John Edwards to be President. I’ve suspected from the start that Edwards’ advantages from name recognition would diminish as other candidates were seen campaigning.

Hillary Clinton also had no problem with name recognition, starting the year with the lead in Iowa. John Edwards remained competitive due to making the state his second home, and led Clinton as recently as April. Clinton soon retook the lead, and currently has extended her margin to nine points. There’s still a lot of time for Edwards to make a come back in Iowa, but that might prevent him from campaigning sufficiently in the states which follow soon after Iowa.

While the more of Edwards they see the less they like him, with Richardson it appears to be the reverse. Bill Richardson has pulled to only two points behind third place Barack Obama, after polling at 1% for much of the year. These shifts in momentum are important. At this point I’d rather be a candidate on the way up, even if only in fourth place, than a candidate on the way down like Edwards. What is particularly interesting is the results when likely caucus goers are broken down between Democrats and those claiming no party affiliation. Richardson is in first place among those with no party affiliation, with Obama second.

The Edwards campaign tries to hide the reality that his nomination would give the Republicans the best shot at winning the general election with unsubstantiated claims that he is most electable. The likely Iowa caucus voters who claim no party affiliation have little interest in Edwards as he comes in well behind Richardson, Obama, Clinton, and Undecided. Success among those with no party affiliation may not be enough to help Bill Richardson win the caucus, but the lack of support for Edwards suggests he’s not the Mr. Electability which his campaign tries to portray him as.

In yet another blow to Edwards’ campaign, the AFL-CIO, who he was heavily courting, has decided not to endorse anyone yet. This is partially due to Edwards being so far behind Clinton and Obama.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Scott says:

    I feel as if I must point out that just about every ARG poll of Iowa has shown Clinton in the lead. That defers from just about everyone else in which Edwards is in the lead. There was just a Mason Dixon poll released where Edwards had 27 or 28 to Clinton’s 22. I never trust ARG when it comes to polling. They always seem to get it wrong.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I find the increae in support for Clinton to be more significant, possibly suggesting Clinton will take the lead in other Iowa polls, even if by a lesser amount. We’ll have to see how the next round of polls comes out to see if this is a meaningful trend.

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