Change Beats Experience (But Not Because Obama Won)

The Edwards campaign is trying to spin their second-place finish by saying 70 percent of caucusgoers voted against Hillary Clinton tonight. That, they say, means change beat experience.

They’re right, but not because Clinton lost, nor because Barack Obama won. Change beat experience months ago among Democrats when Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd were all ignored by the electorate. Those three second-tier contenders never caught much traction—in Richardson’s case he actually lost momentum—because Democrats clearly don’t care about a political, legislative, or diplomatic résumé .

Hillary Clinton, after all, still ran on a change message. Sure, it may have been ineffective compared with her hyper-change, hyper-hope competitors, but it was still a message of change. Among the three change candidates, Clinton was the most experienced, and she lost. Democratic voters had already narrowed down the change-experience spectrum to eliminate the candidates who equated experience with electability. Then, within that smaller spread of change candidates, the most experienced person lost.

Experience didn’t lose tonight. Hillary Clinton did.