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June 11, 2006

Oooh! Ohhwowww... Aahh!

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

So, there's this new poll of likely Iowa Caucus-goers.  And, it's the first poll anywhere where Hillary doesn't come out on top -- she's at 26%.  And, guess who's on top?  John Edwards is at 30%!  His favorability/unfavorability leads everyone at 83/11, with only 3% having a "very unfavorable opinion"!

I may get another post in tonight, but my body will have to stop convulsing with pleasure first.  You have no idea how  hard it was to type this one out. 

June 11, 2006 | Permalink


Amazing how little news there's been about this. Pundits don't like Johnny. Bloggers don't like Johnny.

Only voters who've had a chance to get to know him like Johnny Sunshine.

And those fav/unfav numbers are better than Jesus gets at Liberty University.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 11, 2006 6:31:48 PM

Obviously Neil and Petey luv Johnny (in a strictly heterosexual way, the General would add). But ongoing convulsions of pleasure does sound attractive (or hot). It's a difficult concept to mentally get ahold of. One wonders just how long this pleasure goes on? After 4 hours does one have to call their doctor?

It's hard to have high unfavorables when you never say anything that could offend someone (who calls themselves a Democrat) - so Johnny doesn't get extra credit or gold stars for that.

The times I've seen Edwards in action on TV, I keep thinking of the defense lawyers on Law and Order - including the hair and clothes and the 'friendly' manner with the jury.

Pinch yourself, Neil, nothing is THAT good.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jun 11, 2006 6:56:34 PM

correction: should be - 'no politician is THAT good'.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jun 11, 2006 7:00:27 PM

Another thought: is reading polls on Johnny going to be the new LSD, heroin or crack?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jun 11, 2006 7:02:14 PM

"After 4 hours does one have to call their doctor?"

Political love differs from erotic love in its lack of tumescence. And without the perils of priapism, crossing the 4 hour barrier poses no danger.

"It's hard to have high unfavorables when you never say anything that could offend someone (who calls themselves a Democrat) - so Johnny doesn't get extra credit or gold stars for that."

So why are Kerry's unfavs higher?

The thing that got me wasn't the low level of unfavs - that isn't too hard to achive for reasons you allude to above - but instead the ridiculously high level of favs. More than 4 out of 5 like the guy? That's pretty unheard of in a contested Dem primary. And also, the striking leads over the other known candidates in the field.


If it weren't for the Vilsack machine working against him in '04, Edwards would've won Iowa. And since Vilsack's candidate just lost the IA Gov Primary, I'd say the Vilsack machine is dead as Zarqawi for '08.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 11, 2006 7:26:12 PM

I notice Gore wasn't listed on that poll.

Posted by: Iron Lungfish | Jun 11, 2006 7:26:52 PM

"I notice Gore wasn't listed on that poll."

Dunno where Gore's top line number would've come in, and who he would've drawn votes from, but the one thing I can tell for sure is that his fav/unfavs wouldn't have been even close to JRE's.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 11, 2006 7:38:25 PM

"So why are Kerry's unfavs higher?"

Is this a serious question? Very few Democrats actually liked Kerry much as a candidate; they supported him entirely based on electability grounds. Once he failed to actually get elected, a ton of Democrats blamed him (along with gays, Michael Moore and just about everything else) for losing the White House. Kerry is deeply resented by quite a few Democrats, just as Al Gore was for a while after 2000 - only Al Gore has had the time and nostalgia factor to rehabilitate his image. All in all this is pretty unfair to Kerry, especially considering there's a decent case to be made that he actually ran a better campaign than Gore did considering what he had to work with, but it doesn't change the fact that he doesn't stand a chance in 2008.

Edwards on the other hand wasn't much of a target during the general in '04 because Kerry was taking all the hits. For the most part he kept up his warm and fuzzy act throughout the campaign and avoided saying anything provocative, and while Kerry was getting called a traitor and a coward who wanted to sell our military to the French, the worst Edwards ever got was getting called a trial lawyer. Kerry didn't gain much from picking Edwards as his VP, but Edwards definitely profited from the experience: he got a ton of positive exposure and very little blowback.

Posted by: Iron Lungfish | Jun 11, 2006 7:41:55 PM

"one thing I can tell for sure is that his fav/unfavs wouldn't have been even close to JRE's"

I'm sure that's true, for the reason I listed. Edwards is basically a high-profile cipher right now; the only people who have an unfavorable opinion of him are the people he actually represented in the Senate.

Posted by: Iron Lungfish | Jun 11, 2006 7:44:03 PM

"the only people who have an unfavorable opinion of him are the people he actually represented in the Senate."

The home state "don't run' phenomena is well known. Kerry had lousy ratings in MA in '03. Gore had lousy ratings in Tennessee in '99. Clinton had lousy ratings in Arkansas in '91.

It's a pretty strong pattern.

"I'm sure that's true, for the reason I listed. Edwards is basically a high-profile cipher right now"

It's more than that. And it's for some of the same reasons that let him come close to defeating the Vilsack machine and win in '04. While Edwards may not offend many in the coalition, he's also been loudly working for some rather unfashionable causes within the coalitoin - namely poverty, CTW union organization, and the overriding theme of remaking an America divided by economic royalists.

If you can loudly work for the right things in the right way, Dems all across the political spectrum of the coalition will give you some serious consideration. That's how you get 83% favorable numbers.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 11, 2006 7:57:42 PM

Edwards doesn't have a rat's chance in the general election. He simply doesn't have the experience.

...but my body will have to stop convulsing with pleasure first.

Either get a girlfriend or stop touching yourself.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Jun 11, 2006 8:59:59 PM

"some rather unfashionable causes within the coalitoin - namely poverty, CTW union organization, and the overriding theme of remaking an America divided by economic royalists"

Since when has decrying poverty and economic royalists EVER been unpopular among Democrats? Is poverty popular with blacks? With latinos? With union workers? With Jewish voters? What segments of the Democratic base are really pro-poverty here? Unions may be unpopular with the DLC-types, but they're a tiny segment of the party and they've been anything but ascendent over the last six years.

Edwards is fine on economic stuff, but his most conspicuous weakness, once again, is the war, where he'll eventually have to stake out territory that will, one way or another, piss a lot of people off. To his credit, he's already beating a good chunk of the pack by saying the war was a mistake, but he needs to be able to say what he'd actually do in Iraq if he became president. Is he for withdrawal? Is he for McCain's brigade of imaginary troops? Does he want to Stay the Course? I'd really like to know.

Posted by: Iron Lungfish | Jun 11, 2006 9:05:41 PM

What is the big deal with this guy? Did he heal a blind person or something? Rescue a busload of nuns from running off a cliff? what?

I'm not saying there's anything bad about the guy, he seems intelligent & effective & I'm glad to have him on my side. But I haven't been able to guage what makes a rather uneventful one term Senator with Presidential stars in his eyes such a messiag character to some. Ok, he's frekishly handsome & is a charismatic speaker, what else is there to talk about? What else has he done? If the support is due to a belief that he is potentially electable than I (may) disagree but I can understand that. If the support is due to some legitimate achievment on his part than I would like to know what exactly it is. Maybe I can get it too.

Posted by: Dustin | Jun 11, 2006 9:50:28 PM

Dustin, I've written a couple things that might be answers to your question. For the substantive case, here's the post I wrote when he had Ezra over for dinner. I post a lot on the electability issues, but the post on how he'd beat McCain is probably the best thing to read there.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Jun 11, 2006 10:15:15 PM

Neil: (on the Ezra dinner post) - do you have any evidence from Edward's public statements that he'd push hard for universal health care?

I see him as one of the centrists that talk the incrementalist line - where incremental is glacial. Universal health care in 2050 is not a goal, it is just a political (wet, but dries fast) dream cast as an election slogun. A solution is needed this decade - yes, within 18 months of the 2008 election.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jun 11, 2006 10:38:01 PM

If I were Hillary, I wouldn't be putting a lot of resources into Iowa and NH. Not her kind of activist. Edwards comes out of there with victories, and then gets stomped in the South, and closes shop.

Ain't gonna be no "peace candidate" win this general. Republicans will manipulate events to put security up front, and the Democratic guy gonna have to look like he/she will bomb stuff. Edwards ain't that guy.

Oil/gas gonna be critical. Edwards could maybe win in 1992. But we are in 1980.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jun 11, 2006 10:49:06 PM

Bob, I'm wondering if enough war fatigue has set in that people won't be quite so intensely into the blow-stuff-up GOP war message. Remember that the 08 election will be more than twice as far from 9/11 as 04 was, and that the worst 4 years of Iraq will have been added onto the end of 2004.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Jun 12, 2006 1:49:30 AM

Neil, It would be a very pleasant surprise after 45 years of watching politics. A clue would be Warner getting the nomination over McCain...McCain is the frontrunner for a reason. 2006 will show us something. But the beltway is still hawkish;they know something, they usually go with winners.

Boxer endorsing Lieberman, and saying the netroot hate of Lieberman was about the war. All true, but she felt she was safer with Lieberman than with the base.

I get very depressed living thru the sixties again. By the time Nixon had flown away, it had been 32 years of war. A little rest, oil spike, a few hostages, and then Reagan. Those who grew up in the 90s have a different perspective. For me, there is no peace, all I know is America at war.

Clark or Clinton,I think. Edwards can't bring peace.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jun 12, 2006 2:36:09 AM

I sure agree with the general drift of Bob McManus's comments about the national security push by the Repubs. The Repubs think that is the Dems weakness, and they will follow their natural inclinations, surely. The Repubs don't have much to say on domestic stuff anyway - except they will try unsuccessfully to convince the voters that they are better off than in 2000.

The ONLY possible candidate that could undercut the perceived weakness of the Dems that the Repubs have carefully crafted since Reagan is Wes Clark. Not to say that he wouldn't be attacked as well, but with much less believability.

I kinda liked Clark in 2004 (mostly because of the national security posture, but for other reasons as well), but his campaigning skills were weak, and Kerry blew him away.

Here's a pro-Clark diary from dKos about Clark's impression at yearlyKos and the TX Dem. convention. It sounds like he has learned how to do the campaign thing well since 2004. IMO, he'd surely do better on foreign affairs and national security than any of the other potential candidates, and probably would do as well on domestic issues. I'm not ready to commit yet, but if he can raise some money for Iowa and NH, maybe he could get the centrist and liberal wings of the party together to support him.

Clark is sure trying hard to win netroots support, so I think we owe him a very close look.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jun 12, 2006 2:46:56 AM

I'm really surprised by all the hostility to Edwards here. No one much is giving any reasons for their hostility other than, "He hasn't done or said X!"

JimPortlandOR: Edwards hasn't talked about universal health insurance (that you've heard of.) This disqualifies him from your support. A few posts later, you're boosting Wesley Clark, who, last I heard, hasn't said anything about universal health insurance either, demonstrated less electoral appeal than Edwards last time around, and less electoral appeal than Edwards this time around too, from all the polls I've seen.

Iron Lungfish: Addressing poverty and the poor isn't really and unpopular cause among liberals, just irrelevant. Yet, even though Edwards actually is talking about this and doing some things about it, and Feingold, Warner, Clark, et al aren't, this doesn't matter because...well, the other candidates are Democrats too, and elements of the Democratic base care about poverty issues, so...yeah, Edwards isn't any better than anyone else. QED. Funny how that logic doesn't apply to Edwards' benefit on all the other issues you guys care so much about, then: health care, Iraq, etc.

P.S. You mention blacks, latinos, union members and Jewish voters as anti-poverty voters. Not all these groups are necessarily "liberal," which is why Hillary can do so well among African-American voters in national polls despite her high-profile stances that piss off liberals. In fact, black voters and union members in particular have had some pretty strained relations with white liberals. You can find out more about this obscure historical tidbit by reading any piece of literature dealing with American politics in the second half of the 20th century.

I think this attitude has a lot more to do with you guys seeing yourselves as a constituency (the netroots), and certain candidates like Feingold and Clark and Gore have been more aggressive at reaching out to this constituency via Kos or MoveOn, than has Edwards or some others. If universal health care were really your biggest voting issue, than Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich would have got a lot more support in '04, since they had the most aggressive plans in that regard, and John Kerry would be getting a lot more support right now, since he's laid out a plan for withdrawal from Iraq in addition to Feingold.

What this is about is "Which candidates are willing to stroke me as a constituency group?" rather than where they are on the issues. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that makes anyone here any worse or any better than any other constituency group. Just don't kid yourselves about what's going on here.

Posted by: Chris | Jun 12, 2006 6:02:40 AM

This to my mind is great news. Edwards seems to have found his "inner Bobby Kennedy" (the way Kennedy, a political moderate became passionate about poor and minorities after visiting both black, white and chicano/bracero slums.) A politician who participates in and endorses strikes (in today's hostile environment against class-war) and raises money for alot of good causes should get a fair hearing. And when he's advocating universal healthcare and anti-poverty solutions to boot then there's little else to to but say, "yay".

"CAN'T WIN" - But Hillary can.. Gore can.. Kerry can.. etc etc I think that Edwards stands as good a shot as any, but I also feel Edwards is one of the few people in the race who could be able to inspire his old voters and reach out to new voters with success.

We should be grateful that there's a candidate who advocates many of the things Edwards is saying. It's not like there's a wealth of candidates endorsing universal healthcare. Ask Hillary if she'd endorses universal healthcare... And that's your presumptive nominee?

Posted by: Hustveit | Jun 12, 2006 6:55:36 AM

I, for one truly miss Edwards. He was a reminder to me that there is still room for somone progressive and principled in the Democratic Party. Unfortuneately, this is not the sixties and his boyish charms simply come across as inexperience in the ruthless arena of GOP politics. No matter how much I liked what he was saying, I thought Cheney thoroughly eviscerated the guy in the '04 vice-presidential debates. It was like watching Hitler devour a small puppy. I hope he has spent these last years getting a handle on his demeanor because I would love nothing more than a President Edwards.

*&^ *&^*& ^*&^ *&^*&^ *&^*& ^*&^

Posted by: urthwalker | Jun 12, 2006 7:38:25 AM

Urthwalker; I disagree. I think he held his own against Cheney. The quick list of old Cheney votes was marvelous, and I remember it as being judge a tie, with Edwards winning the domestic policy parts hands down and Cheney exuming 'gravitas' to eek infront on foreign policy (maybe Kerry should've been up against Cheney and Edwards up against Bush... might've made more even and fair pairings..)

I think Edwards, with the right strategy (and I believe he's on the right track now), the right team and a very good VP-choice, could be the "changemaker" that will electrify the party, give hope independents, and even show promise to some of the many (often poor) non-voters who stay out of the electoral process cycle after cycle.

Against Allen or Romney Edwards would be a good choice - A contest between Romney and Edwards would be a pleasure to watch. To charismatic fellows with basically equal amount of experience. And our guy would win. Against John McCain it's a different matter. More difficult, but not impossible. After all, 2008 will be a Democratic-leaning year.

Posted by: Hustveit | Jun 12, 2006 8:17:33 AM

"You mention blacks, latinos, union members and Jewish voters as anti-poverty voters."

Uh, no I didn't. I mentioned them as members of the Democratic coalition. Petey's contention was that Edwards' anti-poverty message was unpopular with the coalition; I said this was patently not the case. Not all of these groups make poverty their top priority, but none of them are opposed to fighting poverty.

Let me be perfectly clear what my objection is to Edwards. No one is going to win the White House in 2008 by running away from national security, and in both the primary and the general in '04, that's what Edwards did. His optics work well for domestic issues (where youthfulness is often conflated with reform) but are terrible on national security (where youthfulness is often conflated with weakness), and are compounded by the fact that he hasn't actually done anything. This is a man whose entire political career consists of a single Senate term, two years of which were taken up by running for president and vice-president, and you mean to tell me that he's the best guy for the job? If anything was going to make me allergic to the prospect of unqualified dilettantes riding their way to the Oval Office on charm and name recognition, it would be the last six years.

So please, people, do not put the burden of proof on me as to why I shouldn't believe that John Edwards, one-term senator and no-term anything else, deserves to be in the White House. You have to make that case, and if there's a hole in that case - like "why doesn't he have a plan for Iraq" - you have to fill it, not me.

Posted by: Iron Lungfish | Jun 12, 2006 9:06:42 AM

If it weren't for the Vilsack machine working against him in '04, Edwards would've won Iowa.

Petey, Vilsack if anything rooted for Edwards against Howard Dean. Otherwise, he didn't do much and couldn't without being noticed.

FYI, Edwards exceeded expectations in part because his supporters cut a deal with Dennis Kucinich's supporters to back Edwards if Kucinich wasn't viable. At least, that's what I heard from my sister who was an Edwards delagate from her precinct in Muscatine. (She liked Kucinich a lot though, but didn't think he could get elected while Edwards could.)

Posted by: David W. | Jun 12, 2006 9:11:14 AM

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