Why I would vote for Edwards
If I was an Iowan I would be going along to my local Democratic caucus tonight to vote for John Edwards.
Ideologically, I'm probably nearer to Hillary Clinton, but I think the geography of where a Democratic candidate comes from is the key to beating the Republicans later this year.
The only Democratic candidates to win since 1960 have been from the south: LBJ (Texas), Carter (Georgia) and Bill Clinton (Arkansas).
The losers have almost all been from rust belt states in the mid-west or north east: HHH (Minnesota), McGovern (S Dakota), Mondale (Minnesota), Dukakis (Massachusetts), Kerry (Massachusetts).
The only exception is Gore, from the outer south state of Tennessee - but he actually won the popular vote and but for some chicanery in Florida would have won the electoral college as well.
Why is the geography important? Because the Democrats already sweep every state in the north and indeed on the liberal west coast, but still can't win. Demographic change - population shift from rust belt to sun belt and Hispanic population growth in states like Florida and Texas mean that you cannot win as a Democrat without adding to the states won by Gore and Kerry at least one southern state.
And the last 11 elections have proved that southerners will not vote for Democrat presidential candidates from the distant North East or Mid West.
The frontrunners can't reach out to the south. One is a senator from rust belt Illinois, the other a senator from New York born in Illinois.
Edwards can - he's from North Carolina and beat an incumbent Republican to become a senator. Even adding his own state to the Democrat column from last time would be enough to change the outcome of the election.
Though I disagree with his stance on Iraq I think Edwards also has by far the most interesting policy platform, with its emphasis on eliminating poverty, combating climate change and support for universal healthcare.
My second preference would definitely be Clinton who has experience and gravitas. The hype about Obama leaves me cold - he's too inexperienced, too much an unknown quantity - a senator for about five minutes - and doesn't seem to stand for very much which is a bit alarming in someone pitching to be the most powerful politician on the planet.
My worry is that yet again the Democrats will go with a candidate who emerges from their primary process because they can galvanise liberal activists and studenty types, and then discover that the swing voters in key states are many things but they are not usually lefty students or liberal activists.