After Wisconsin, maybe John Kerry isn’t as electable as we thought he was. John Edwards’ very close second place challenges that thinking. So says this opinion piece (hat tip to my husband for the link).
John F. Kerry is an old school traditional democrat when the Democratic Party desperately needs new blood. The Democratic Party’s best chance for a victory in November is to have an energetic moderate that can appeal to Independents and Republicans who feel betrayed by the president.
After comparing Kerry’s performance in the Wisconsin debate with Edwards’ feisty, straight-talking answers, I’m inclined to agree. Independent voters appreciate Edwards’ taking responsibility for the vote on the Iraq war, while at the same time criticizing Bush’s handling of the war. Edwards’ strong populist message also resonates with the Independents — especially in a strong manufacturing state like Wisconsin. They like the way Edwards stood up to Kerry and refused to concede the race to him. And they’re listening to Kerry give his long-winded, waffling answers and thinking it’s the same-old-same-old.
As the field narrows to three candidates who have any substantial vote-getting power (and really only two since Dean is basically a dead candidate walking), people are beginning to pay more attention to Edwards’ message. And it’s finding more support.
Update: Dean has officially ended his campaign. So now it's basically a two-man race for the Democratic nomination. It'll be interesting to see whether Edwards sticks to his guns or whether he joins hands with Kerry, sings "Kum Bah Yah" and everybody makes nice. If that happens, the Dems could be shooting themselves in the foot by not reaching out to independent and moderate swing voters.