John Edwards is in a win-win situation. Here’s his primary outlook:
1. Places 2nd or 1st in Iowa, seriously damages Obama or Hillary, and rides tons of media coverage into New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina (where you’d think he’d be doing better than 15 percent considering he’s form North Carolina). Has a plausible chance at winning because his success almost guarantees the failure of another major candidate.
2. Places any worse than 2nd, soldiers on through Nevada, then, unless he’s back in serious contention, makes a back-room deal with Hillary or Obama for VP, drops out, tells all his voters that he’s backing that candidate, and begins campaigning on his or her behalf if necessary.
3. Places 3rd by a close margin in Iowa, and stays competitive to a degree that he wouldn’t consider dropping out. Goes to the convention with enough delegates to get anything he wants. Gets anything he wants in exchange for his delegates and the de facto nomination.
No one else on the campaign is in as sweet a spot as this. Richardon, Dodd, Biden, and Kucinich are polling too low to extort anyone with delegates, and Obama and Hillary have expectations that are so high that any power play like this would be impossible.