Edwards’ Southern Appeal

A post on The New Republic's blog The Plank cites "a rival campaign operative" taking issue with John Edwards's promise that, as the Democratic nominee, he'll win multiple Southern states. The operative supports this note of skepticism by pointing to the anemic performance of the Kerry-Edwards ticket in North Carolina, where President Bush won 56 percent of the vote.

I too have doubts about Edwards' ability to deliver so sweepingly in the south; his message seems more likely to resonate in the Rust Belt than in the Sun Belt. That said, it's questionable at best to bring up figures from 2004, because Vice-Presidential candidates simply do not have a measurable impact on the final vote count.

If they did, George H.W. Bush would not have won 40 states in 1988, with the woeful Dan Quayle as his running mate, and Michael Dukakis would have faired much better with the the likable and competent Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen on his ticket.

Dukakis failed even to pick up Bentsen's home state of Texas, but Bentsen, who ran concurrently for re-election to the Senate in '88, trounced Republican Beau Boulter (60 to 40 percent) to hold his Senate seat – the highest vote total ever achieved by a Democratic Senate candidate in Texas.

I'm not suggesting Edwards is as beloved in North Carolina – and the South in general – as Bentsen was in Texas. But there are little if any conclusions to be drawn from the 2004 numbers.

Edwards’  Southern Appeal