Despite Focus on Poverty, Edwards Trails Among the Poor

In what may have been a violation of campaign finance laws, Rudolph W. Giuliani's consulting firm paid for his security while he was campaigning. (By Stephen Morton -- Bloomberg News)
By Politics
Wednesday, July 11, 2007

As Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards ramps up his anti-poverty initiative this weekend, he will be confronting a deep popularity deficit among his party's poorest voters.

In the most recent Washington Post-ABC poll, the former senator from North Carolina was trounced by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents with household incomes below $20,000. Clinton had the support of 55 percent, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) drew 20 percent and Edwards 10 percent.

Meanwhile, a new poll focusing on political independents, conducted by The Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University, shows this muted support among low-income voters carrying over to the general election.

Despite Edwards's devotion to discussing poverty issues, 40 percent of independents from households earning less than $20,000 said there is no chance that they would back him in November 2008 if he were the Democratic nominee. Among these low-income independents, Obama had the lowest "reject rate": 22 percent said they definitely would not vote for him if he were the nominee.

Edwards also encounters trouble among those independents who said that they and their families are falling behind financially. In this group, 9 percent said they would definitely support him as the nominee. Obama and Clinton had nearly twice that level of certain support.

Voters with empty bank accounts are not the only ones Edwards will need to attract, according to these polls -- he faces similar deficits among wealthy voters -- but his lack of support among the poor stands in stark contrast to his emphasis on economic parity.

-- Jon Cohen

Who's Paying Giuliani's Security?

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) faced questions about some overeager tactics by his security detail. Now questions about security are aimed at fellow GOP candidate and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Giuliani's campaign spending reports showed no security expenses during the first three months of this year. But the burly guards who trail Giuliani around the country have not been working for free.

For most of this year, Giuliani's consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, has paid the cost of the security detail -- an arrangement that has existed since Giuliani stepped down as New York mayor -- campaign spokeswoman Maria Comella said. His campaign travels eventually became so extensive that the campaign began picking up the costs on June 18, she said.

Campaign finance experts say the campaign may have run afoul of federal campaign laws that prohibit candidates from accepting money or in-kind contributions from corporations.

"It certainly appears to challenge the law, with respect to a corporate contribution," said Ellen Miller, a longtime campaign finance watchdog in Washington. "A corporation cannot make an in-kind contribution by paying for a service or a party or even food at a party."

-- John Solomon

© 2007 The Washington Post Company