NPR logo
Getting to Know Edwards' Supporters
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Getting to Know Edwards' Supporters


Getting to Know Edwards' Supporters
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


So, the big question now is, what happens to those voters who were supporting John Edwards?

For a clearer picture of those voters and the issues they care most about, we're joined by Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center.

Welcome, Andy.

Mr. ANDY KOHUT (President, Pew Research Center): Glad to be here, Michele.

NORRIS: So, if we look at this block of people who voted or caucused for Edwards in these early contests, what kind of demographic profile do we see?

Mr. KOHUT: Well, it's not a matter of so much what we see; it's a matter of what we don't see.


Mr. KOHUT: What we haven't seen, given his populist appeal, was his having any greater attraction or appeal to voters who are less affluent, poorer people. What we do see is a little more support for Edwards among white males than among other demographic categories. We don't see much in terms of issues, I mean, he doesn't get a bigger constituency among the people who are concerned about the economy. But you know, the real surprise about the Democratic race is that issues don't matter. There's almost no correlation in the exit polls between the issues people say they prefer and the candidates that they vote for. They seem almost irrelevant even though these are very important issues to Democratic voters. It's more about personal characteristics and qualities.

NORRIS: Yeah, it's interesting, the economic issue, because he hammers that message about, you know, vowing to fight for the middle class. That was the core of his message.

Mr. KOHUT: It was the core of his message. And there was a little resonance, particularly in Iowa, of voters saying he cares about people like me - I remember he did pretty well in Iowa; he came in second in Iowa. But by the time to New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton took a fair number of those people who said that they were vote - looking for a candidate who cares about them. That hurt Edwards there. So, the compassion, the populism hasn't seemed to work for him.

NORRIS: Is there any indication that the voters who are supporting Edwards or who were supporting Edwards were motivated not just by their impression of him but also by their version to one of the other candidates. Is there an anti-Obama or anti-Clinton factor here?

Mr. KOHUT: Well, I looked at that, and if anything, you get the sense that Obama is liked a little better by the Edwards supporters - 60 percent of the Obama supporters had a favorable view of Hillary Clinton, 67 percent a favorable view of Obama. So, there - a majority said they like both of them. When we asked the direct question, who would be your second choice if Edwards were not available, which he is now not? Obama 44, Clinton 31. Now, this was two weeks ago; that may be quite different. The real puzzle here is what happens to white males who have been more inclined to vote for Edwards than other categories of Democratic voters? Whites have not been voting for Obama, and males have not been voting for Hillary Clinton, so which way do they go? The answer is I don't know.

NORRIS: Andy Kohut is the president of the Pew Research Center.

Thanks so much for coming in, Andy.

Mr. KOHUT: You're welcome.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.