CBS Poll: Most Support Edwards' Decision

Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth Edwards talk to the media about the return of her cancer during a news conference March 22, 2007 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Getty Images/Sara D. Davis

Americans support former Sen. John Edwards' decision to continue his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination after his wife was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer — and by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

According to a CBS News Poll conducted in the two days following the couple's interview by Katie Couric on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday, 57% of those who were surveyed said Edwards is doing the right thing by continuing to campaign. Less than half as many — 24% — said he should have suspended his campaign or withdrawn entirely.

Democratic primary voters — both those who said they would vote for Edwards and those who said they would not — are especially supportive of Edwards' decision to continue. Two-thirds of Democratic voters polled said he made the right decision.

Those who watched the "60 Minutes" interview as well as those who did not watch said they support Edwards' decision. Among those surveyed, the more closely Americans were following this story, the more supportive they were of Edwards continuing his campaign.

There was little difference between the opinions of women and men on the question: Do you think John Edwards is doing the right thing by staying in the presidential race, or should he have withdrawn or suspended his campaign?

A majority of respondents believe that, should Edwards be elected president, his wife's health would not affect his ability to do the job. Among all voters, 52% think Edwards could devote enough time to the job while 30% believe he could not and 18% are unsure. Among Democratic primary voters, 63% believe he could manage it all.

But winning the nomination could be more difficult, according to the survey. While almost half of those surveyed think the chances of Edwards being the Democratic nominee are not affected by Elizabeth Edwards' health issues, 28% of all respondents and 30% of Democratic primary voters think it makes it less likely.

Overall, Hillary Clinton is the top choice for her party's primary voters, garnering 36% who were asked to choose between three candidates. Barack Obama is the choice of 28% and Edwards received 18%. Previous polls have also shown Edwards in third place.

Some 44% of Americans said they know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. A majority of them supported Edwards' decision to continue his campaign.



This poll was conducted among a random sample of 831 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone March 26-27, 2007. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. An oversample of registered voters who plan to vote in a Democratic primary next year was also conducted for this poll, for a total of 539 interviews among this group.

The subsample of all Democratic primary voters was weighted to the proportion of these voters across three previous 2007 CBS News and CBS News/New York Times Polls. The margin of error for Democratic primary voters is plus or minus five percentage points.

  • Francie Grace

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