Edwards is gone. I don’t have a horse in the primary race next Tuesday, and, other than working at the polls, I’m not sure whether I’ll participate.
Other Edwards supporters might vote for him anyway or choose between Hillary and Barack. Nobody’s sure where those disappointed Edwards supporters will land. My gut would be that more of them will go for Obama than for Clinton, since her record is more conservative in some areas. Besides, Obama and Edwards were both vying for the I’m-not-Hillary spot, so it would seem natural for many of them to migrate toward Obama.
But I could be wrong. The Edwards people might split evenly.
I do know that unless Obama gets most of those votes he is, according to a poll conducted last week by the Post-Dispatch, in trouble in Missouri. He’s way behind Clinton. The poll shook out this way: Clinton–44 percent; Obama–31 percent; Edwards–18 percent.
You should each vote your conscience, of course, but from a purely pragmatic point of view, Hillary is a risky choice. She is neck and neck with the likely Republican choice, McCain (Clinton–45 percent; McCain–44 percent), whereas Obama is five points up (Obama–47 percent; McCain–42 percent). What that poll doesn’t show is how vitriolic the anti-Hillary voters are. They might not be excited about McCain, but to vote against Hillary? Oh yeah, they’ll show up. They’ll have far less interest in getting their bums down to the polls to vote against Obama, though.
That same mindset is what worries many Democratic insiders all over the state. They fear, as Claire McCaskill pointed out, that Hillary will be a serious drag on the downticket races. Their polls show her consistently running two to three percentage points lower in a general election than Obama would.
That many percentage points could mean the difference between picking up a couple more state senate seats and losing one. Missouri Dems have their hopes for improving the senate picture pinned on three suburban and three rural races. A Hillary candidacy probably wouldn’t hurt them in the suburban races. But those rural races? Yes. Not only does she poll four to five percentage points lower in those particular races than Obama does, her unfavorability rating in those places is shockingly high–in the sixties.
As a disappointed Dean supporter in ’04, I’m aware that selling Democrats on the electable candidate–John Kerry?!–isn’t necessarily a good idea. If you’re a Hillary supporter, go for it. I’m just offering some useful information to people who are still fence sitting.