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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 11:07 AM ET, 08/11/2008

Iowa Without Edwards

Would Hillary Clinton have won Iowa if John Edwards had been forced out of the race? Howard Wolfson thinks so....

Wolfson, former director of communications for Clinton's presidential bid, suggested to ABC News that the New York senator would have prevailed in Iowa had Edwards been forced from the race before voting started in early January.

"Our voters and Edwards' voters were the same people," Wolfson told ABC. "They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama."

It is a pure hypothetical, of course, and the entire dynamics of the contest would have been different without Edwards. But the public data do not bolster the notion that Clinton would have won.

In the networks' Iowa entrance poll, 43 percent of those who went to a caucus to support Edwards said Obama was their second choice, far fewer, 24 percent said they would support Clinton if their top choice did not garner enough votes at that location. The remainder of Edwards' backers said they would be uncommitted under such a scenario, offered no second choice or said they preferred someone else.

Nor was Clinton the obvious second choice among Edwards supporters in Post-ABC pre-election Iowa caucus polls in July, November or December. In July, for their alternate pick, Iowans split 32 percent for Obama to 30 percent for Clinton. In November, Obama led 43 to 26 percent as backup pick, and he had a slight 37 to 30 percent edge in December.

By  |  11:07 AM ET, 08/11/2008

Categories:  Exit polls

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