Kucinich switches from Edwards in 2004, and decides to back Obama instead:
Democratic Presidential candidate and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich opened the New Year by publicly asking his Iowa supporters to vote for him in the caucuses this Thursday, and suggesting that if he did not make the 15% threshold, their second ballot should be for Senator Barack Obama. "This is obviously an 'Iowa-only' recommendation, as Sen. Obama and I are competing in the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday where I want to be the first choice of New Hampshire voters.
"I hope Iowans will caucus for me as their first choice this Thursday, because of my singular positions on the war, on health care, and trade. This is an opportunity for people to stand up for themselves. But in those caucus locations where my support doesn't reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice. Sen. Obama and I have one thing in common: Change."
I think Kucinich has something against the candidate that he believes is taking away his natural supporters. Back in 2004, I was very surprised that Kucinich didn't back Dean, and instead went for Edwards. I'm somewhat less surprised that he is backing Obama this time, since Kucinich has focused on the war and Obama is the only other candidate who opposed it from the start.
Still, backing away from Edwards after Edwards moved even further to the rhetorical and policy left seems odd to me. Of course, Kucinich is indeed an odd fellow, and I don't pretend to understand his thinking. One of the Kucinich supporters I know, my brother's long term girlfriend, even likes to satirically describe Kucincih as "a magical elf." That seems apt to me.
It should also be pointed out that the Kucinich endorsement will matter less in 2008 than it did in 2004. Four years ago, Kucinich was polling at an average of 3.3% in Iowa just before the caucuses. Right now, he is only polling at around 1% in Iowa. Also, I'm starting to think that the entrance poll will determine the media narrative after Iowa, not the final caucus results. If someone wins the entrance poll, but loses after second-choices are allocated, both the campaign and the media will point that out in pretty much every write-up of the caucuses. In order for a candidate to score a real momentum boost from Iowa, it will be necessary to win both the entrance poll and the final results by 4% or more.