Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

Many polls now have shown that John Edwards typically is the best general election candidate against any Republican opponent. And John Edwards supporters (such as myself) have made note of this as part of his appeal. But some might argue that these trial heats are merely an illusion based on people liking Edwards's sunny disposition or even his wonderful wife, and that once he was actually in the general election, people would turn away from him as a flawed candidate. I don't believe this is true and I actually think his general election poll numbers grossly underestimate his actual strength were he to go up against any Republican in 2008. Here's why.

I don't think there's any argument that of the three major candidates, John Edwards has devoted the most attention to the organized labor movement. He's walked picket lines, he's worked on poverty issues, and just about every chance he gets, he talks about the importance of organized labor as the backbone of the middle class, but more importantly, as the foundation of a strong progressive movement. Edwards gets the fundamental reality that there are class differences in this country. Progressives seek to address the inequalities that arise from these class differences. Organized labor does so through bargaining for better wages and working conditions for their members. But perhaps more importantly, they provide a political education for their members and help to expose the inequities in society while giving their members agency to address these issues through solidarity and political action.

Now why is this important for electing Democrats in general and a Democratic president specifically? Because when class differences are muted, Republicans win. And when class differences are brought to the forefront of the debate (with a skilled politician, sorry Dennis), Democrats win. This does not mean that the candidate has to go out waving a red flag and calling for workers to revolt with a general strike. But it does require that the Democratic candidate makes an effort to draw attention to gross inequalities in society that are hurting families in this country so that multinational corporations can pad their bottom line. In short, it's about subjugating corporate interests to the interests of the people, i.e. populism.

So, where have we seen this strategy in action before that has resulted in a victory for a strong progressive in an erstwhile not so progressive area? Well look no further than a certain battleground senate race in 2006.    

The most progressive senator elected from a swing state race in 2006 was Sherrod Brown (sorry Bernie, we always knew you would win in VT). And Sherrod not only won, he gave Mike DeWine the whuppin' of his life (winning 56% - 44%). He arguably ran the most populist/pro-union campaign, drawing attention to inequities in our trade policy, the disgustingly low minimum wage, and the need for green collar jobs in Ohio for unionized workers. Look at the voter survey for the Sherrod Brown race.  


VOTE BY INCOME    
TOTAL                  DeWine     Brown
Under $15,000 (7%)     28%     72%
$15-30,000 (14%)     36%     64%
$30-50,000 (23%)     42%     58%
$50-75,000 (24%)     45%     55%
$75-100,000 (14%)     50%     50%
$100-150,000 (9%)     47%     53%
$150-200,000 (3%)     48%     52%
$200,000 or More (5%)     56%     44%

VOTE BY INCOME    
TOTAL                         DeWine     Brown
Less Than $100,000 (82%)     42%     58%
$100,000 or More (18%)         50%     50%

ANYONE IN HOUSEHOLD IN A UNION?
TOTAL                  DeWine     Brown
Yes, I Am (14%)                         23%     77%
Yes, Someone Else Is (13%)     40%     60%
Yes, Both (2%)     *     *
No, No One Is (72%)                 49%     51%

ANYONE IN HOUSEHOLD IN A UNION?
TOTAL          DeWine     Brown
Yes (28%)     32%     68%
No (72%)     49%     51%

ARE YOU A UNION MEMBER?
TOTAL          DeWine     Brown
Yes (16%)     25%     75%
No (84%)       47%     53%

Two stats were particularly telling: (1) when people vote according to their economic interests, Democrats will always win, (2) the more people that are in a union household, the more Democratic they become.  It's as simple as that. Unions make progressives. And unions vote Democratic when candidates espouse the same message that the union is conveying to its members.

So Edwards's strength in the general election will draw from point (1) above. If Edwards gets the nomination he wins the presidency because he understands that for Democrats to form a governing progressive majority, they need to show people that our party will look out for their interests and will fight for economic justice. And just as importantly he recognizes that we need to show people that the other side has been actively working AGAINST their interests since about 1909.

And, once he is elected president he also understands that for progressives to consolidate their gains and to form a truly multi-generational governing majority, they absolutely must actively promote the drastic expansion of organized labor in this country. A vote for Edwards is a vote for a landslide in 2008 and a new New Deal coalition for the 21st century.

Tags: Class, John Edwards, Labor, Sherrod Brown, Unions (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

The organized labor movement is the key to enacting a progressive agenda in this country. Look at any other industrialized country, which are all typically more progressive than the United States (e.g. they all have universal health care). Everyone of them has higher, and sometimes 2 or 3 times higher unionization rates than the U.S.

It's pretty simple.

by adamterando 2007-11-30 04:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

He is the most electable--and I think voters will awaken to that idea.

by benny06 2007-11-30 04:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

It's interesting that Edwards' electability is actually premised on his progressivism and his ability to communicate what a progressive agenda looks like.  That to me might be among his most redeeming values and is among the reasons that I have supported him for going on a year now.

by Peter from WI 2007-11-30 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

White male racists/sexists are voting Republican today, ge0rge.  They won't support Edwards, Biden, Dodd, Kucinich or Gravel any more than Clinton, Obama, or Richardson.

However, isn't disqualifying JRE becasue of his race and gender just as wrong headed?

by CLLGADEM 2007-12-01 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

Right and the progressive movement will be much better off in the future.

by MassEyesandEars 2007-11-30 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

I've come around to the idea Edwards is the most electable.

I'm not without my reservations about him. My gut tells me Obama will be a better decision-maker at crunch time on foreign policy issues. But I think Edwards will surround himself with some good people in addition to people who think U.S. policy should be optimized around Israel.

I like Dodd's push on the Constitution, but he seems to be a candidate looking for a niche, not someone associated with fighting hard on these issues before he ran for POTUS. The guy who made his mark fighting before Dodd was, of course, Russ Feingold, who I want to be the first Dem nominated to SCOTUS.

Biden is a capable lawyer, but he's a slippery fish. And he's more impressed with himself than I am.

Richardson. Probably an excellent choice for Secretary of State. He's had too many little gaffes, but I would be fine with him breaking into the first tier in Iowa or NH.

I comfortable with Edwards and Obama. I'd be OK with Dodd or Richardson.

by Carl Nyberg 2007-11-30 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

I worry that Edwards reformation, though perhaps sellable to the Party, is a killer nationally.  The most effective attach against a candidate is that he in insincere or not what he says he is - a flip-flopper.  It is so easy to make an honest attack ad of Edwards by contrasting his votes as a Senator and his words now that I think he could easily be wounded in the GE.

by Piuma 2007-11-30 01:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

It doesn't help the GOP to claim that Edwards is not really as progressive as his platform is, because of course conservative=good in their eyes. "Flip-flopping" really only helps if they can use it to paint him as less conservative than his platform. Which is why it's good for Democrats to run on a very progressive platform.

(In the primary, of course, it's different: Clinton did try to attack his progressive bona fides by pointing out that he did not have a UHC proposal back in '04.)

by Rob in Vermont 2007-11-30 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

And I think that the most bona fide of bona fides is that Edwards has staked a run at the presidency, something to which he is among maybe 8 people in the country closest to attaining, on being and acting like a progressive.

For example, he's put out a true, comprehensive, and well well laid-out plan for universal healthcare.  And the fact that he's got a full scope of policy and programming plans that are among the most progressive 'platform' for a contender of a candidate since Jesse Jackson in 1988 is itself a reification of his core progressive values and bona fides.

I don't think that anyone but the most committed Hillary Clinton supporters here on MyDD would argue that back-up-against-the-wall, Clinton would stand as a progressive.  I am fully confident that Edwards would, will, and has in this campaign (and carry that forward to the White House).

by Peter from WI 2007-11-30 07:09PM | 0 recs
Edwards a flip-flopper?

A flip-flopper like the Big Dog? Or like John Kerry?

by Carl Nyberg 2007-12-03 11:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

Another angle on his transformation...

He has said, and it's evident in his actions, his rhetoric, and the nature of his campaign, that he has been able to be more true to himself and his core beliefs and instincts.  Were Edwards to win the nomination and the election, it would be because of that - and he would be free to act and react as an executive according to those inhering traits and values.  That is an exciting prospect.  

by Peter from WI 2007-11-30 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

So far Edwards wins at the Democratic National Committee with a barn-burner speech this a. m.   He truly supports democratic principles.  I just sent him another contribution and I don't have very much to give.

I continue to believe that he and Obama should be the Democratic team.

by cando 2007-11-30 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

Here in Colorado a landslide is not a good thing.
I appreciate your enthusiasm. However,; it is my understanding that all elected delegates will come here to Denver.
As I have for many months, my feeble prediction is that NO candidate will have 51% in August.
Denver will be an uglier prime time to USA than the ugly MPLS...

In Denver, it will be which Candidate will be able to turn down the heat.

You all will see National Guard/Army on the streets.
You all will see folks moving beyond "free speech zones"

As a person dedicated...arrested..for non-violence..and on way too many lists, I will be out of town...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzORu1dqE E0

by nogo war 2007-12-01 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

I don't know about landslide, he has many negatives- the public funding rules, and republicans would hammer the garnishment and IRS ideas, that would be hard to counter.

I mean, I would vote for him, I do want 'universal healthcare,' but make no mistake, we've have a big job ahead of us, it would not be easy, we would need a big team effort to win and everyone pulling together.  I would do what I can.

by reasonwarrior 2007-12-01 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Why John Edwards wins in a landslide

Edwards will be a wonderful President.

Elizabeth will be an amazing first lady.

GO EDWARDS!

by win 2007-12-01 03:59PM | 0 recs

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