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A little good news for John Edwards

December 14, 2007 |  3:36 pm

DES MOINES -- Yesterday's Democratic debate in Johnston, a suburban town just north of the state capital here in ice-bound Iowa, was notable for little. No new ground was broken. Now-familiar themes and positions were rolled out yet again. And the pundit round tables dissected the performances and generally concluded that the campaign had not been advanced to any great degree.

But CNN reports at the end of this post-debate analysis that members of a focus group it had assembled picked a clear winner: John Edwards, whom we also singled out yesterday for a forceful performance. CNN reports that its focus group "overwhelmingly responded that Edwards came out on top at the end of the 90-minute debate. Many of these voters said he would get their vote if the caucuses were held today."

Good news for Edwards, who most polls show is in a statistical tie for first here with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a race that is becoming increasingly volatile as the Jan. 3 caucus night nears. The downside: It was the kazillionth debate of the campaign, and it took place just after lunch, so viewership was probably light, despite later re-broadcasts.

But still, in a caucus system where every supporter's voice is magnified, Edwards had to have walked away with a little bounce in his step, like a salesman who had just reeled in a balky customer.

-- Scott Martelle

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