RICHARDSON OUT….Apparently Bill Richardson will drop out of the Democratic race tomorrow. No big surprise.
So who will this help? Before today I would have guessed probably Obama, or maybe Edwards. But two data points give me pause. First, Richardson’s biggest policy difference with the other candidates was his call to get all American troops out of Iraq as soon as possible, and New Hampshire voters who wanted to get out of Iraq favored Hillary Clinton over both Obama and Edwards.
Second, if Jay Carney’s friend is right, and both Biden and Dodd supporters in New Hampshire ended up voting for Hillary, that suggests that voters supporting conventional “experienced” candidates end up supporting another experienced candidate when their guy drops out. And among the remaining candidates, that’s Hillary. Richardson’s main selling point has been his resume and his experience, so it seems likely that his supporters will turn to Hillary as well.
None of this may be fair. By all rights, withdrawal supporters ought to favor Obama or Edwards. And it’s arguable that, in reality, Hillary is no more experienced than Obama. But fairness doesn’t really matter. Hillary, by common consent, is the candidate of experience, and apparently also the candidate of voters who want to get out of Iraq. So Richardson dropping out seems likely to boost her prospects.