Nice job by Kevin K. taking on the argument recently being advanced by people who either need some excuse to discuss John Edwards’s sex life or to excuse their dismal performance running Hillary Clinton’s campaign that Edwards’s foolish decision to stay in the race somehow cost Clinton the election. I think we had the discussion at the time, and the argument from people who thought that Edwards’s presence helped Obama was to claim that Edwards and Clinton were competing for the same working-class white voters. And the problem with this was and remains that while Edwards’s campaign certainly tried to appeal to these voters, it wasn’t actually attracting them in very significant numbers. Rather, Edwards was attracting more of the “wine-track” voters who could be expected to go to Obama. (I did enjoy Malcolm’s imagining of a significant “anti-Obama” vote in the Iowa caucuses.)
Obviously, counterfactuals are difficult, and particularly given the weirdness inherent in the Iowa caucus system we can’t know for certain how Edwards coming to his senses and dropping out would have affected the outcome. But it is overwhelmingly likely that, far from handing the nomination to Obama, his decision was the only thing stopping from Obama pretty much wrapping up the whole thing in New Hampshire.
…see also. None of which changes the fact that Edwards dropping out somehow would have made Mark Penn competent, I’m sure.