I think John, below, is dead on about the splitting of the Edwards vote -- and that, particularly, the Southern Edwards vote won't break Obama's way. There's a perception that Edwards dropping out is awesome for Obama -- a text message I sent this morning that read, "Who benefits?", received the reply, "OBAMA!!!" -- but I wonder if that more reflects the sentiment within the campaigns, both of whose rank and file pretty much hate Clinton, than out in the general universe. A somewhat weird and depressing Times story this morning tries to gauge, on the ground, the feelings of white Southern voters unhappy with Bush. Here's a representative passage:

Similar unease was voiced in Yell County, Ark., another place that has swung back and forth, where some were quick to say that Mr. Obama’s race was not prohibitive for them personally but could well be for others.

Only John Edwards, a fellow Southerner but now considered an also-ran, met with broad approval from independents who were interviewed in the Tennessee county; in Arkansas, Mrs. Clinton’s most ardent supporters in the undulating “Free State of Yell” — so called because of a history of electoral eccentricity — conceded that they knew plenty who were just as sharply opposed to her candidacy.

Former Bush voters disillusioned with the president said flatly they would not vote for Mr. Obama, while others expressed disappointment with the available choices. ... “Statements I’ve heard, Obama, they’re seriously afraid of him,” said Bobby Rollans, a retired teacher, sitting at Savanna’s, a restaurant perched on the Arkansas River. Bill Mashek, a retired National Guard officer, said, “I’ve talked to some yellow-dog Democrats; they won’t vote for Obama.”

Read the whole story -- with a big fat grain of salt, as any chronicle of a Times reporter bravely venturing down to discover the true racism of those backward-ass Southerners requires. But there are some interesting sentiments there, especially about the tenacity of the false and outrageous Muslim smear among even non-Republicans.

-- Eve Fairbanks