Chuck Todd on Clinton’s Chances Without Edwards in Race

A top Clinton aide has suggested that, if John Edwards had been forced from the race early because of the Rielle Hunter scandal, Clinton woud have won in Iowa and gone on to win the nomination. I previously noted the absurdity of this belief here, with Chuck Todd showing agreement with this view in a column today.  He also presents compelling arguments that without Edwards in the race Obama might have clinched the nomination more easily. Todd wrote:

There are so many reasons why this theory is off, I don’t know where to begin.

As network entrance polls pointed out, Barack Obama topped Clinton nearly two-to-one when it came to second choice picks by Edwards backers.

Assuming this is the actual breakdown of how things would have split among Edwards’ thirty percent, this scenario would have given a little more than 50 percent to Obama and a little less than 40 percent to Clinton, guaranteeing him a double-digit Iowa win.

It’s also likely that Obama may have snatched somewhere closer to 60 percent, given that Iowa had already turned into a two-person contest. But maybe Joe Biden or Bill Richardson would have popped up on the radar in an Edwards-less field.

The idea that Clinton’s standing would have somehow improved in Iowa without Edwards is just not supported by data or observation.

Both Edwards and Obama were running as populist change agents. They pigeon-holed Clinton as the status quo politician.

If anything, Edwards’ relative strength with labor unions kept Obama from getting key early endorsements — backing that could have secured an Iowa blowout and possibly a victory in New Hampshire.

If anything, Edwards was the reason why Obama didn’t rule the roost pre-Super Tuesday.

But I want to touch on another aspect of the Edwards story that no one seems to be paying attention to in Clintonland.

Had this affair come to light during the Democratic primary process, it could have potentially destroyed Hillary’s candidacy.

Why? A smooth-talking Southern politician getting caught having an affair with an eccentric “blonde” woman? Sound familiar? Exactly.

An Edwards revelation in late 2007 or early 2008 would have forced Hillary and her campaign to relive all things Monica and Gennifer and Paula.

How helpful would that have been? You think the cable pundits were tough on Hillary because of her gender? Imagine a world where Bill’s paramours were front and center once again.

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