For those of you who think the Democratic presidential nomination fight is just a two-way race between Obama and Clinton, check out this brand new poll from the Reno Gazette-Journal. Yup, that's right - it shows the Nevada caucus race a three-way, dead heat with John Edwards right in the mix.
Interestingly, this poll comes right on the heels of the Establishment viciously ratcheting up its angry attacks on the Edwards candidacy. Late last week, we saw a Reuters story headlined "Corporate Elite Fear Candidate Edwards" detailing how Wall Street moneymen and K Street lobbyists are frightened about Edwards populist, power-challenging message against greed and corruption. We also saw self-anointed Democratic "expert" Lawrence O'Donnell pen a fulminating screed demanding Edwards get out of the race - not surprising coming from a man who made his name running the U.S. Senate Finance Committee - long the most corrupt, lobbyist-ravaged panel in all of Washington (somehow, running the U.S. Congress's version of a pay-to-play casino now makes people credible "experts" in campaign strategy and political morality).
According to the nonpartisan Project for Excellence in Journalism, Edwards has long faced a media blackout - one that at least some honest media brokers like Keith Olbermann have noted. As I said a long time ago, that Edwards has even been able to compete in such a hostile environment is a testament to the power of his message.
The question we should ask is what the hostility and media blackout is really all about? I'd say the media's behavior is motivated by the same impulses that moves lobbyists to whine and cry to Reuters and self-important bloviators like O'Donnell to publicly burst a blood vessel on the Huffington Post - the people who have gotten used to the status quo are truly terrified by any candidates who they really believe will change things and threaten their power and status. Edwards is just such a candidate - one who threatens to muck up what the media and political elite want to be a race between two "nonthreatening," Wall Street-approved candidates. Obviously, it's a three-way race at this very moment - whether the Establishment likes that or not.
Let me conclude by saying I have no idea if the Gazette-Journal poll is accurate and/or whether Edwards will win Nevada (or any other state). Unlike most reporters, I don't spend my time covering the horse race, nor judging the candidates' viability only on the grounds of how much corporate cash they've been able to vacuum in. I spend my time trying to figure out which of these candidates represent the most fundamental form of change. One of the ways to judge that is to see who these candidates make uncomfortable. And by that measure, here's what I know: Edwards is generating hostility from precisely the kinds of people who are likely to be most averse to real, systemic change. And that speaks very well for the former senator from North Carolina.