Edwards Didn't Need A Boost

To me, a curious bit of apparent conventional wisdom in the recent punditry on Elizabeth Edwards has been the assumption that John Edwards's campaign was having trouble gaining traction, getting run over by the twin supernovas Hillary and Barack. I heard a lot of this on radio and TV particularly the last 24 hours or so. I can't say I'm the most plugged-in guy in the world, but my sense has been quite the opposite: Edwards has made tremendous strides on the ground in the early states, particularly Iowa, while his rivals have been splitting their time on the job in Washington, and raising money in NYC, Calif, etc.

A couple of new polls support my perception. First is new polling data from ARC, taken just before the cancer announcement. Check out the recent movement among likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa:
                 Jan. 07        Feb. 07        Mar. 07
Clinton         35%             31%            34%
Edwards       18%             27%            33%
Obama         14%             23%            16%

With the rest of the field at one or two percent. To a large extent, Edwards seems to have scooped up all the Vilsack supporters after the homestate Governor quit the race. (Reports out of Iowa today say that Vilsack will soon endorse Clinton.) The shift in New Hampshire likely voters is less dramatic but still significant:
                 Jan. 07        Feb. 07        Mar. 07
Clinton         39%             38%            37%
Edwards       13%             19%            20%
Obama         19%             20%            23%

And again, the rest at 1 or 2. Also released today is's latest survey of the state's Democratic county chairs -- an incredibly important group. Only four have already committed to a candidate: three to Edwards and one to Wes Clark. And look at who they are considering supporting (they were allowed to select multiple candidates):
John Edwards -- 71%
Barack Obama -- 69%
Bill Richardson -- 37%
Hillary Clinton -- 34%
Joe Biden -- 14%
Al Gore (write-in) -- 9%
Dennis Kucinich -- 6%
Wesley Clark -- 6%
Chris Dodd -- 6%
Mike Gravel -- 3%

In my own opinion, Obamamania shattered Hillary's "inevitability" within the party -- and it's been Edwards who has capitalized on the fallout. That could change over time. But at the moment, it's not Edwards who has needed to change the dynamic of the race.

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