'Game Change' Fallout: Elizabeth Edwards' Popularity Drops


Bruce Drake

Contributing Editor
The popularity of John and Elizabeth Edwards (or, in his case, the unpopularity) in their native North Carolina appears to have taken a hit due to the unflattering portrayals of them in "Game Change," the behind-the-scenes chronicle of the 2008 presidential election by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, according to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted Jan. 15-18.

That would hardly be a surprise since one excerpt from the book about them is titled "Saint Elizabeth and the Ego Monster."

The number of North Carolina voters who see John Edwards favorably has dropped from 19 percent last May to 15 percent. The percentage who view Elizabeth unfavorably has increased from 22 percent to 27 percent. In May, 58 percent of North Carolinians had a favorable view of her, a number that has fallen to 46 percent.

"As more and more dirt about the Edwards' comes to light it's taking a toll on both of their images," said PPP's Dean Debnam. "John doesn't have much further to drop but Elizabeth is not being viewed as sympathetically as she was before this book came out."

Aside from John Edwards' well-publicized extramarital affair, "Game Change" says his advisers began to believe he was developing a "burgeoning megalomania," and one aide dubbed him the "Ego Monster."

But the book also tars Elizabeth Edwards -- called "Saint Elizabeth" because of the outpouring of sympathy and support for her because of Edwards' cheating and her struggle with cancer.

"The romance between her and the electorate struck them (Edwards' advisers) as ironic nonetheless-because their own relationships with her were so unpleasant that they felt like battered spouses. The nearly universal assessment among them was that there was no one on the national stage for whom the disparity between public image and private reality was vaster or more disturbing," the book said.

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