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John Edwards gains a little ground in South Carolina

There's still an awful lot of space between John Edwards and Barack Obama in the South Carolina polls ahead of Saturday's primary, but as the Zogby folks have found, Edwards is moving to within striking distance of Hillary Clinton for the No. 2 spot.

Caveat: Shifts demarked in a single poll often don't mean anything, and polls in general are NOT predictors. Being savvy political watchers, you knew that, of course.

But the Real Clear Politics aggregate tracker shows a similar shift amid some serious volatility in South Carolina. Most interesting is that two weeks ago Clinton and Obama were running neck-and-neck, even without the margin of error. Since then -- as the Clinton tag-team lined up against Obama -- the Illinois senator has gained support while the New York senator has lost support (Obama has seen some erosion lately, too).

At the same time, Edwards has been picking up traction. Again, there's a lot of ground between him and Obama. But not so much between him and Clinton. And if Edwards edges out Clinton again, you have to wonder what that will do to her support in the Feb. 5 states.

-- Scott Martelle

Comments () | Archives (21)

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If Edwards does edge out Clinton or get real close then I hope you will at least have a headline that says Edwards Does Better Than Expected. He didn't get any credit for beating Hillary in Iowa so you guys owe him one especially after all the pieces I've seen in the media this week writing his obitituary and trying to divie up his supporters among Obama & Clinton.

After New Hampshire, I really don't believe in polls anymore. Hillary will win the Democratic nomination! She has a great advantage to win the White House. She has the right machinery & most of all she has the knowledge to be the next President. Obama can be her VP, it will be a good training for him.

GO Hillary for 2008!

Senator Obama is who we need to get our country out of the mess it is in. Hillary has no more experience than Senator Obama and simply being the wife of a former president is not enough. Hillary is not a good choice to be Obama's VP either, as evidenced by her recent desperate and dishonest actions, she is what is wrong with the face of American government and politics.

Obama has more delegates!

Since the next headline will likely read, "Obama the favorite among Black South Carolinans," I sure hope the Times doesn't forget to mention race in all the predominantly White states so the headline for a Hilary win would be "Hilary the favorite among White Idahoans" too.

I really think the Dems will lose in November if they nominate Hillary or Obama.

In general the press has long ago decided that Clinton and Obama were the contenders. By providing much less coverage for the other candidates they insure that their prediction becomes fact.

How can you tell if Obama can accomplish anything as President when he has not accomplished anything else? In the state legislature he voted ":present" much of the time. In the US Senate he has spent his time running for President. He has accomplished Nothing. He speaks well but there is no way to tell if he has ability or if he is an old time Southern preacher selling snake oil.

As this race has been whittled down to just three candidates, I become more concerned that neither Obama nor Clinton can win a general election. Edwards is the only hope for Democrats.

I'm a moderate Democrat, and I could see myself voting for McCain vs Obama or Clinton. But I'd vote for Edwards over all three.

Vote for Jeb Bush! Write it in.


it'd be great if you explained just WHY his campaign is catching momentum, rather than just noting the fact. Last time I found out the truth about the $400 haircut story that has been propagated so effectively by the right-wing controlled media that is so afraid of Edwards' candidacy and the platform he represents. Now I hear that "ooh, he's edging out Clinton - what does that mean for Clinton?"

(I didn't write it, Kevin. So really have nothing to add. We'll see the actual results in less than 24 hours now.)

Come on Andrew. Be a populist like the rest of the country is becoming. Edwards cares about people in working class situations such as yourself. Yes, yourself. Because the LA Times is not immune to outsourcing, and the way you people are serving your community re: the blackout of Edwards, the Internet has become a far more credible source of information for the Los Angeles community. You seem like an honorable person and it would be great to see you look in-depth at the platform of John Edwards and the excitement it is bringing to Californians and all Americans.

Actually Obama does not have more delegates if you include the super delegates. The current tally is:

Clinton 218
Obama 127
Edwards 53

Uh, Al, Sen. Obama did NOT vote "present" MUCH of the time--it was about 130 votes out of about 4000! And, as has been discussed quite frequently and openly, voting "present" in the Illinois state legislature is a common political strategy by many members of that body. Sen. Obama has said that he used them as a way to stall Constitutionally faulty bills or ones that were misleading (such as some of the anti-choice bills masquerading as pro-choice) so that they would be re-worked.

cnn's political headline this am should read will hillary lose credibility after her loss in s.c.

This nonsense about Hillary having more experience and Obama voting "present" has got to stop. It's a bunch of stupid misleading nonsense being forced down your throat by one of the dirtiest campaign strategies I have ever seen. You want to know what's really a "myth" Bill? The idea that your wife has any more experience than Obama does. She got elected to the Senate off of his legacy and has done nothing more in her short time there than Obama has. As has been explained voting present made up a small portion of his votes and he explained why he voted that way. Now she's running for present by associating herself with her husbands legacy again while simultaneously bringing little else to the table herself.

C'mon! Big deal....if he gets close to hillary, or even beat her, NO ONE will care. California will still vote for hillary, and so will all the other big feb 5 states.

No one likes edwards; he needs to drop out and let the big boys and girls play.

Hey Gary -- The polls in NH were 100% CORRECT. It was the REPORTING of the polls that was wrong. The media failed to account for (or report) that 28% of voters said they were not committed and may "likely change their mind." The polls got the "firmly committed" numbers right on the nose; 37% firmly for Obama. It was the MEDIA who decided that those 28% of undecided voters would vote Obama because he had "momentum from Iowa." The polls were right, the pundits were wrong. Google "Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Jan. 9" for more details -- he was the one reporter who caught this.

do not use super delegates for your totals, because they move as often as the wind. 19 of them were for richardson, and he dropped, so they switched candidates. richardson will mostlikley endourse someone when the race is heated up after super tuesday, with fear that al gore will get the nomination of the democratic party if no candidate gets enough support. for such reasons that show the general public that the dem convention is corupt, we should see such endoursements if the race is close after tuesday, and those 19 votes could change hands in a minute, and than possibly 50 times there after until the convention.

also EDWARDS is the real CHANGE candidate, he used that slogan for over 4 years now... a congrassman of chicago who has no pollitical experience other than getting machine vote support by the mob,and clinton who uses every dirty trick in the book, except for doing her job, are capitalizing off of Edwards work from 2004.
If SC votes Edwards in #2, he will have a good chance to come back into this 3 way race. no matter what, it looks like edwards will be running in someones campaign.

Edwards is the ONLY democrate worth looking at, once you compair them to the new generation of republicans who are making progressive changes to the party. politicians who care: like Mike Huckabee.

(thats right, im from the north east, and im in support of the 2 southern boys)

If Edwards comes in second folks will say a couple things: he is a native son, he won the state in 2004, and he spent more money on ads that either of the other two candidates. He will need to win elsewhere to earn credibility.

We have TWO political superpowers here. They both shattered all previous fund-raising records, then they both pulled off back to back miracles, first Obama in Iowa then Hillary in N.H.

How many times have we heard politicians promise to bring in huge numbers of 'unlikely voters?' Yet how many times has that actually happened?

But in Iowa Barack Obama not only turned out the student vote in unprecedented numbers, he, in many cases, got them to drive sometimes hundreds of miles to come back from Xmas vacation early to caucus for him.

Hillary's miracle was lessor, but still respectable as she motivated older women in N.H. to turn out for her in unprecedented numbers.

Edwards is the 'smiley face' candidate. He shifts according to the latest polls like a feather blown about the yard by wind. He was a moderate in his Senate race, then a progressive in his nomination battle before becoming, once again a moderate running as VP for Kerry. He Co-sponsored the AUMF when 70% of Americans were in favor of it, then 'apologized' for his mistake once the war became unpopular. He's an empty suit with a pretty face and a nice haircut.

Either Obama or Clinton will blow through the Republican candidate (whoever it is) like a jet fighter through a flock of pigeons. So the REAL question is which of them will make a better President? Obama has the REAL (rather than illusory) experience and the JUDGEMENT that goes with it. Hillary's experience is being married to Bill Clinton, and her lack of sound judgement has been proven again and again.

Maybe Hillary should have voted 'present' instead of "for" the war!

My dream ticket is Clinton/Obama - she has the experience we need immediately and it would give Obama a clear path to the top with the opportunity for much needed experience. I truly hope they can resolve their personal differences after the nomination has been resolved. I won't, of course, hold my breath . . .

After Hilary's win today, Obama will be done. In fact politically, he will be toast. End of story.



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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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