THE PLANK JULY 6, 2007
A couple days ago Noam made the smart point that Hillary Clinton is executing a campaign strategy that she drew up for a political environment that doesn't actually match the political environment she's now competing in. If that's true for Clinton, it's even more true for John Edwards.
The Edwards people--including, it seems, John and Elizabeth--left the 2004 elections convinced that had Edwards won Iowa (and they believe he would have won Iowa if the Caucuses had been held just a few days later, given the way he was rising in the polls), he and not John Kerry would have been the Democratic nominee. Which is why Edwards has been essentially living in Iowa for the past three years. His campaign's strategy involves a sort of domino theory: a win in Iowa will lead to wins (or at least strong finishes) in New
Hampshire and South Carolina and on down the line. Which, of course, is the path Kerry took to the nomination in 2004.
But as John Judis points out today, an Edwards win in Iowa this time around probably won't be enough to propel him to the nomination. John writes:
Among the Democrats this year, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are both going to have enough money to compete. But John Edwards, who raised only $9 million in the last quarter, compared to $32.5 million for Obama and $27 million for Clinton, looks like he is going to fall by the wayside. The problem is a practical one. Edwards is hoping that a victory in the Iowa Caucuses on January 14 will boost his chances, but, given the condensed primary schedule, a victory probably won't help him enough if he doesn't already have the money to pay for advertising in the big states. Of course, Edwards could follow Steve Forbes's precedent and make a huge loan to his campaign.
That last possibility is an interesting-- but unlikely--one. Where Forbes's net worth was in the neighborhood of $500 million--and Mitt Romney, who's loaned his campaign about $9 million so far this cycle, has a net worth that's estimated to be between $190 and $250 million--Edwards's is a relatively paltry $30 million. Considering how much he'll likely be trailing Obama and Clinton in the funds department by early next year, I don't know if he'll have enough to make himself the sort of loan he'll likely need. And, if he doesn't, I think John's right: Edwards may well be toast.