Edwards fares best against Republican field
Call them the Dem Yankees. They include the current front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination, U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.
But you might as well throw in the other presidential candidates from the North and Midwest -- U.S. Sens. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Joseph Biden, D-Del., and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.
Despite their relative merits as candidates, history suggests none of them can beat a Republican. The last Dem Yankee to win the presidency was John Kennedy in 1960.
Since then, the only successful Democrats have been from southern and border states -- Lyndon Johnson of Texas in 1964, Jimmy Carter of Georgia in 1976, Bill Clinton of Arkansas in 1992 and 1996, and Al Gore of Tennessee, who won the popular vote in 2000.
Hubert Humphrey (Minnesota), George McGovern (South Dakota), Walter Mondale (Minnesota), Michael Dukakis (Massachusetts) and John Kerry (Massachusetts) all went down in flames against their GOP rivals.
Currently, Hillary Clinton is enjoying a strong lead in the polls among Democrats -- 38 percent to Obama's 27 percent, according to the Rasmussen Reports survey site.
Former North Carolina U.S. Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, is far back at 16 percent, according to Rasmussen.
Yet, in matchups against the top declared Republican candidate, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Clinton and Obama both lose.
Only Edwards beats Giuliani -- 47 percent to 43 percent, based on a June 6-7 survey of likely voters.
Giuliani and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, a Tennessee Republican and star on NBC's "Law and Order," currently are tied in the lead (28-27 percent) in the GOP field, Rasmussen polls show.
Against Thompson, Edwards has a 13-point lead, 51 to 38 percent. Clinton and Obama also beat Thompson, but not as strongly.
Of course, the 2008 primaries are still a long way off. A lot can happen between now and then.
And there are other non-Yankee Democrats in the race, notably New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former ambassador to the United Nations. (Richardson is polling at 3 percent.)
In Hawaii, influential Sen. Daniel Inouye has come out in favor of Clinton, while Congressman Neil Abercrombie is backing Obama, who was raised in Hawaii. More endorsements might help sway voters.
But right now Edwards, despite his third-place showing, looks like the best chance that the Democrats have in 2008. And that's not just whistling Dixie.
Jim Borg is a Star-Bulletin assistant city editor.
My Turn is a periodic column written by Star-Bulletin staff members expressing their personal views.