Where Will Edwards Supporters Likely Go?
In trying to determine if Edwards supporters will break more for Clinton or Obama, there are two main factors to consider: momentum and demographics.
First, which candidate currently has the momentum in the campaign? When a candidate drops out of a campaign, his or her supporters tend to break for the candidate with the most momentum at that time. In this case, that appears to be Obama, given that he has gained on Clinton for five consecutive days in the Gallup national tracking poll. While the Rasmussen national tracking poll appears static, and while information from state polls is spotty and incomplete, the past few days have seemed to favor Obama (at least before Florida). Overall, from the perspective of the Obama campaign, this was probably a pretty good time for Edwards to drop out.
Then again, looking the information from the five exit polls (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida) Obama might have needed Edwards to stay close on February 5th. Edwards performed well among whites and voters aged 40-65, both of which are demographics that favor Clinton. If there is hope in the demographics for the Obama campaign, it will come from men, and independents, among whom Edwards also performed well. While another strong demographic for Edwards has been self-identified conservatives, there is conflicting information on who that favors. There is also conflicting information on the attendance of religious services among Edwards supporters.