BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 07:48 GMT
Edwards still standing

By Jon Leyne
BBC correspondent in Washington

John Kerry could have clinched the Democratic Party's presidential nomination with a win in all of the so-called Super Seven races on Tuesday, but he came up two states short.

Senator John Kerry
John Kerry: Front runner but not outright winner
The night confirmed his status as front-runner but left room for John Edwards to continue his challenge.

Answering the criticism that he is a north-eastern liberal with limited appeal, John Kerry has now shown that he can win across the nation - north, south, east and west.

The overriding issue in this election for Democrats is who they believe can beat George Bush.

And while Mr Edwards still has a chance, Democrats will be looking to end this primary battle sooner rather than later so they can start the daunting task of challenging President Bush.

Choosing their battles

Until last week, John Kerry had campaigned rarely in any of the five states he won on Tuesday.

His victories were in large part due to the tremendous momentum he gained after his victories in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries.

Seven states held primaries or caucuses: (Click on state for profile)
Only registered Democrat voters can take part
The seven states represent more than 12% of the delegates needed to claim the nomination

The other candidates knew they could not match Mr Kerry blow for blow so they chose states where they thought they could make their stand.

The strategy worked well for John Edwards.

He said that he had to win in his native state of South Carolina - and win he did.

It just barely worked for Wesley Clark who squeaked out a victory in Oklahoma just ahead of John Edwards and John Kerry.

The strategy failed miserably for Joe Lieberman who had pinned his hopes on a win in Delaware, even though the small state would have been little more than a concession prize.

Fallen front-runner Howard Dean, running low on money, chose in effect to bypass these states and make his stand in Washington and Michigan on Saturday.

Few believe he has much of a prayer, but he had written off Tuesday's races pre-emptively.

But the results were disappointing even with lowered expectations, finishing third in four of the races but a distant fifth in Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Anybody but Bush

What is clearly emerging is that the Democrats, above all, are looking for electability. They desperately want to beat George Bush.

There is great anger amongst the Democrats.

In the primary, the Democratic candidates have been fighting furiously against one another.

All the while, President Bush's approval numbers have been going down and down and down.

John Edwards
Edwards will get a second look from Democrats
He is looking weaker, but is John Kerry is the man to beat him? That is the question that Democrats are still asking themselves.

And it is why John Edwards still has a remote chance. If there is a dark horse, he is the one.

People still question whether John Kerry can energise the population to defeat George Bush.

Whereas, John Edwards, with his charisma and his appeal in the South, has some voters still willing to gamble on him.

But voters may not have to choose. There is a lot of talk about a Kerry-Edwards ticket.

The Bush political machine

While President Bush is looking anaemic in the polls at present, he still has not wheeled out his big guns.

Bush-Cheney '04 remains a very daunting, potent political machine with a mountain of money.

While Howard Dean used to boast of his national political organisation, no Democratic candidate has a truly nationwide organisation that can rival the president's.

They have a huge hill to climb, which is why the powers that be in the Democratic Party would very much like this battle to be over so they can start the work of raising money and begin building a presence in key swing states.


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific