The release of the new national Rasmussen poll which shows Edwards pulling into a tie with Obama for second place for the Democratic nomination has a lot of people talking, but I actually thought Chris Bowers’ analysis — which shows Obama pulling into second — had more interesting implications.
Bowers tries to factor in the “bounce” that an average candidate would receive for a first, second and third place victory in Iowa and New Hampshire. It may sound contrarian, but it makes a strange kind of sense. Nothing succeeds like success, and that’s hard to quantify but the Bowers method does sketch an interesting picture of the race:
Now, it certainly will come as news to most political journalists and close followers of the election that Edwards has almost always been in a much better position to win the nomination than Obama. However, I am quite certain that anyone following the trends in early state polls more than national polls will nod in agreement when they see this post. No matter what the national polls have said, this has always been a close, three way campaign, due to how close it is in Iowa. In fact, lately, it has become a four person race, given Richardson’s emergence in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Still, Edwards does indeed face a serious problem where, despite his frequent and extremely important advantage in Iowa, he severely lags behind Obama and Clinton in terms of news coverage. Unfortunately for Edwards and Edwards supporters, however, that disadvantage has, throughout the campaign, had very little to do with actually being in third place in the nomination campaign. If Edwards is going to break through the two-person horserace narrative, basically the only means I can see is to educate the national media on the importance of winning Iowa.
I know it’s conventional wisdom to say that the outcome is a foregone conclusion or that the race is Hillary’s to lose, but these things never do seem to play out in quite that static a fashion.