Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards Endorsement = White/Working-Class/Rural Vote? Or Something Else?

With former U.S. Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards' endorsement, what exactly does this bring to Sen. Obama's campaign?

  1. Someone who can speak the language of a group Obama is desperate for: working-class and rural white voters. While much can be made of the fact that Edwards couldn't bring his own state of North Carolina into the blue column in 2004 as vice-president (Bush won the state by 13 points), there is something to be said for being able to "bridge the divide" between the "gutter-ball elitism" that has been tarred to Obama and the southern-drawl, good-ole-boy (even though he lives in a multi-million dollar mansion) Edwards. One true test of how much this endorsement may help (or hurt) will be the upcoming Kentucky primary. But probably more important than attempting to bridge the working-class white vote is...
  2. The fact that Edwards is a critical superdelegate who can signal to others, "now is the time." Having the former vice presidential candidate and competitor sign on to your campaign plays a critical signal to other superdelegates that the water is fine, jump on in. While Sen. Obama has had a steady flow of superdelegates coming to him since NC & Indiana, I think this endorsement is designed more for the other 197 supers to begin to make their calls.

While Sen. Clinton publicly assured her supporters of going all the way, this endorsement may mean that her "it ain't over till it's over" will be over quicker than she realizes.

Strength in Numbers & Percentages

Based on the primary election for the gubernatorial nominations, both Bev Perdue (Democrat) and Pat McCrory (Republican) had very specific regions and areas that they were able to get at least 55% of the vote in a county. For many political scientists, when a candidate gets 55% of the vote, it's a clear indication of strength in numbers and percentages.

When looking at the counties where Perdue got 55% of the vote, it matches up with her home base, mostly in the "down east" counties of North Carolina. But you'll also notice in the PDF file that she did well in the I-85/40 corridor, starting in Mecklenburg County (home to Charlotte and Pat McCrory) through Forsyth (Winston-Salem) and Guilford (Greensboro) to Durham and Wake counties (Durham and Raleigh).

Looking at the counties where McCrory got 55% of the vote, it is so clear where his strength is, and that is with the Charlotte media/metro market. I also note where Fred Smith (the yellow counties in the PDF file), who was battling with McCrory in the primary, got his strength, and that was downeast as well.

A new poll from Public Policy Polling out of Raleigh has come out, and I'm still working on digesting it, but it appears that both Perdue and McCrory are tied at 45-45, with 9% undecided. While it is still 176 days until Nov. 4 at this writing, the Tar Heel governor's race will be one of the most closely battled, and probably watched, races. Stay tuned.