A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

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.

12 Comments:

Blogger Kris said...

It's clinton/edwards that will emerge as the dem ticket.

9:37 pm, January 03, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I hope so.

9:39 pm, January 03, 2008

 
Anonymous Arnold Punter said...

Right then, thanks Luke. After reading your political judgment, I'll be rushing off now to slap some money on Obama.

11:33 pm, January 03, 2008

 
Anonymous jdc said...

I'm very annoyed by the Richardson-Obama deal, and given how off-message Richardson has gone lately, Obama will pay for it.

The real problem for Edwards tonight is that his proper working-class campaign has made him popular with people who are too busy guarding warehouses and waitressing tables to caucus...

11:58 pm, January 03, 2008

 
Anonymous Mrs Trellis, North Wales said...

"he actually won the popular vote and but for some chicanery in Florida would have won the electoral college as well."

"Chicanery". Ah, so that's what we should call it, is it, when you're fiddling with the postal votes?

1:48 pm, January 04, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a few problems with this post.

Firstly the Democrats keep losing elections because they select dreadful candidates and run lacklustre campaigns. The only reason Carter won was because Ford had given Nixon a pardon.

In addition, the Democrats only have to win an additional state in the Midwest - where Obama is likely to be strong - such as Ohio to give them the magic number of electoral college votes.

"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)."

Again - can you really tell me that the above were good candidates? You also fail to point out that the Republicans won with Reagan (Illinois/California), Nixon (California), Bush I (a carpet bagger from Connecticut and a WASP)... the only 'Southerner' was Dubya. The reason they won? They had a 'Southern Strategy'. The reason the Democrats keep losing in the South? Because of Lyndon Johnson's errosion of state rights. Bearing this in mind, how would a big government Democrat in John Edwards be there Southern panacea?

Finally, in 80, 88, 2000 and 2004 the Democrats squandered huge leads in the polls. This was especially the case in 88 when Dukakis was leading by 20 points. The reason he lost the election was a dreadful campaign... not because he wasn't from the South.

Regarding Gore, the popular vote is completely irrelevant. It's also worth noting that Gore never won in TN - where he is part of a family dynasty.

"And the last 11 elections have proved that southerners will not vote for Democrat presidential candidates from the distant North East or Mid West."

But as you last stated, they also didn't vote for Gore. I repeat - this is down to poor campaigns and dreadful candidates. Clinton was a great candidate - that's why he won. Ross Perot and Bush's tax increase also played a role - just look at Clinton's poor percentage in the final vote.

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."

Edwards also failed to carry North Carolina for John Kerry. He also stepped down from the Senate race because polls indicated that he was destined for defeat.

"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."

This could easily be a description of Edwards, no?

Personally I think all the Democratic candidates would struggle to make real inroads in the South - unless they run a sound campaign. I think Bill Richardson would be an ideal VP candidates, especially because he is from a swing state and is a commander in chief.

It's worth noting that it was LBJ who admitted that he had lost the South because of the expansion of the federal government's power.

The Republicans can win the south without a southerner - therefore why can't the Democrats? This is down to campaigns and candidates.

2:29 pm, January 04, 2008

 
Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

luke, i don't disagree with the majority of your analysis, just with the conclusions.

Sometimes inexperience can be an electoral boon - and Obama clearly has what i would term a "1997 new Labour" effect in terms of bringing out the vote - especially that part normally disinclined to bother. He's fresh, clean and appeals to a massive demographic.

Added to that he's actually politically as sound as can be expected from an American.

I'm predicting that an Obama/Edwards ticket is more likely to emerge, though i wouldn't like to guess which way round. No contender will gain enough support for the majority required in the convention, and I don't reckon any of the top three will pull out for some time. Clinton does not have great relations with her opponents and they're more than likely to gang up on her.

Go Obama!

9:33 pm, January 04, 2008

 
Blogger Darren said...

Edwards will not be a running mate again. It's the Presidential candidacy or nothing.

12:13 am, January 06, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

The Democrats have actually lost the south for good - unless the black voters actually start to turn out in real numbers.

But they can win Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, all of which they lost marginally last time.

The Democrats are now much stronger in the west than they used to be and the old Republican east-coast strongholds have almost all disappeared. Polarisation.

The chances of the democrats winning more than a couple of Southern states are pretty much nil next time. Luke, when will you wake up and realise that the Republicans and the Tories win socially conservative white voters because of what they believe in and stand for? The democrats need to energise other potential voters, not pander to those who are voting for the party which suits their beliefs best.

1:44 am, January 06, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

... and Obama/Richardson would be an excellent combination. Richardson is experienced, Hispanic in origin and from marginal New Mexico.

1:46 am, January 06, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

I've wanted to see Barak Obama win the Democratic nominiation (and eventually win the White House) since he started his campaign. Imagine my delight and total surprise when he won Iowa! I realise he is not as progressive as Edwards (who by the way would make an excellent Vice President) but some of Obama's retoric is encouraging to say the least; I saw it being described as "soft european socialism" in The Times.
I think he is very much like a Blair character reaching out beyond the party faithful, I hope he won't disapoint his Democratic supporters.
The candidate I definately would not want to see Hillary in the White House given her total and unequivical support for the war, but it up to our american cousins to make that choice.

1:27 pm, January 08, 2008

 
Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

I've swung to Edwards after initial prevarication for about a year between him and Obama.

I appreciate that Edwards doesn't have the look of destiny about him which Obama does, but I wanted to support a 'change candidate' (i.e. not more clinton), and to me, Edwards signifies both a more fundamental change than Obama, but also the change America really needs; universal healthcare.

Plus his union backing is attractive to me, misguidedly protectionist the American unions may be.

Hopefully their mafia cash will help him win some primaries. :op

3:24 pm, January 09, 2008

 

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