by Matt Stoller, Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 05:19:19 AM EST
Despite going on a blogospheric hiring spree, Edwards just saw a collapse in netroots support, from 35 points in the January Dkos straw poll to 26 points. This is probably due to the Iran flap, where he spoke belligerently to a group of a neoconservatives, walking back his rhetoric a few days later. Edwards lost 9 points, which was just over a fourth of his blog-specific netroots support. That's a pretty big chunk, and it looks like those people went to 'other' and 'don't know', not to any specific candidate. The premise of the Edwards campaign is that he's changed, which makes a reversion to form problematic.
Now, I have complained about the Edwards operation, and I'm now pretty sure that they aren't ready for prime time. In response to a naughty words put up by in a previous blog by the new bloggers Edwards hired, here's the Edwards campaign response in the New York Times.
Mr. Edwards's spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said Tuesday night that the campaign was weighing the fate of the two bloggers.
That's a bad answer. If a campaign's first instinct is to grant credibility to manufactured complaints, then that campaign simply cannot make it through the right-wing gauntlet. This is also poor framing; the Edwards campaign knew what they were getting when they made the hires, and now to pretend like the bloggers did something wrong is not ok. It's a pure 'I'm going to offload responsibility onto the lower beings' play.
I've spoken to two other knowledgeable individuals about Edwards recently, and what they tell me is similarly discouraging. Journalists who covered Edwards the first time don't buy this transformation, and there's plenty of oppo out there. New Orleans bloggers are now complaining that Edwards just used their city as a photo op. It's sad. I'm getting the sense that Edwards is going to have real trouble moving forward unless he seriously tightens up his operation and stops blowing in the wind.
UPDATE: Several people have noted that the straw poll comparisons are screwed up because the January edition didn't include Kucinich, 'other', or 'don't know'. That's fair, and it's possible that Edwards support was always very soft. I do think that Edwards took a hit after his Iran belligerence, but it's not clear from the evidence that this is what happened.