If the presidential race were a sitcom, John Edwards would be the next-door neighbor who doesn’t take a hint. Nobody has the stones to tell him to stop stopping by, so he keeps on showing up with giddy smiles, predictable conversation topics, and a burning desire to be liked. Even though the main characters never seem to get annoyed with the neighbor, fans of the show tire of him quickly.
Earlier this week, it looked like Edwards might move out of the neighborhood. But that doesn’t seem to be in the script any longer. Edwards had only one goal coming in to tonight: get a delegate. And that’s pretty much all he did. Edwards didn’t add any momentum to his campaign, nor did he convince anybody else to vote for him after a dramatically short concession speech.
But honestly, it doesn’t matter how many delegates Edwards eventually gets. It just matters that he has some rationale to support his quixotic bid to become president. And as long as he’s still pulling in delegates, he can fight back against anybody that says he’s wasting his time. ( Guilty as charged .)
If there’s anything Edwards can be proud of, it’s that he beat everybody else among white men , according to exit polls. Moving forward, Edwards would be wise to try to fill this void between Obama and Clinton, even if it means narrowing the scope of his candidacy. But at this point, his scope is narrow whether he realizes it or not. The only county he won in South Carolina was the one that includes his hometown, Seneca.
Now that we know Edwards is staying in the race, it’s time to play soothsayer for Feb. 5 . The main question: Does Edwards siphon more of the white vote from Clinton or the change vote from Obama? Tonight, it was the former, but on Feb. 5 it could be the latter. In states with less of a black population, we could see a repeat of New Hampshire, where Edwards blocked Obama’s win. Either way, the longer Edwards hangs around the neighborhood, the more likely he outstays his welcome.