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Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Politics of Scandal

WNCN in Raleigh, North Carolina, reports:

An N.C. State University political scientist says John Edwards' indictment on Friday should not impact the local Democratic party.

Political scientist Andrew Taylor says this is a personal scandal, and Edwards was not a big part of the local Democratic scene.

"He would have to have been some kind of phoenix from the ashes to resurrect his career before this moment anyway," Taylor said. "So I don't think it has a meaningful impact there."

Taylor analyzed how Republicans used scandals in the 2010 state legislative campaigns, and found that scandals didn't affect the way people voted.

"Voters sort of believe that all politicians are essentially scandalous," Taylor explained. "Using scandal in a campaign can be helpful, but there are a number of other issues -- substantive policy issues, the state of the economy, that are more effective tools during campaigns.”

Taylor continued, "It's not obviously going to hurt Republicans, but I don't think it will be particularly useful for them. There are plenty of other scandals that they can point to if they want to use scandals.

And on the national scene, the GOP would have trouble in exploiting the Edwards case in light of recent scandals involving Republicans such as former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Nevada senator John Ensign.

The case of Anthony Weiner, however, might be a bit different. At Human Events, John Gizzi points out that Weiner's New York district is Democratic, but much less so than most other districts in the city. Of course, redistricting may change its composition.