Sources within the John Edwards campaign have revealed that the former Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee and North Carolina Senator will exit the race for the Democratic nomination today. The timing of the move was somewhat surprising, even though Edwards had not performed above expectations since his narrow second place finish in Iowa on January 3rd.
The question now is what will happen to Edwards’ support? (Support that ranges from approximately one-tenth to one-fifth of the Democratic primary voting electorate in most Super Tuesday states).
The big prize next week for the Democrats is California — where 441 delegates are at stake (370 are allocated proportionally to the presidential candidates).
A Smart Politics study of nearly three-dozen polls of likely voters in California conducted during the past 12 months found Edwards’ departure should provide a boost for the Obama campaign.
Edwards and Obama were fighting over the anti-Clinton vote – their polling numbers in California are negatively correlated (-.506, significant at the .01 level). Neither Edwards nor Obama’s numbers were correlated with Clinton’s.
When a regression analysis was performed, the polling data reveals for every 1-point increase in support for Edwards, there was a 1.017-point drop in support for Obama in the state of California, holding for Clinton (significant at the .01 level).
This is a strong sign for Obama, who is no longer at risk to lose votes if the Edwards campaign were to have surged a bit during the next week. If the race between Obama and Clinton is going to be as close as some pundits expect, the presence of Edwards could have been the deciding factor against Obama.