By now everyone knows that John Edwards has returned to New Orleans, the site of his hyped launch, to bow out of the race. This despite pledging to fight on to the convention after losses in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Remember this?

“The race to the nomination is a marathon and not a sprint, and were committed to making sure the voices of all the voters in the remaining 47 states are heard,” he said. “The nomination won’t be decided by win-loss records, but by delegates, and were ready to fight for every delegate. Saving the middle class is going to be an epic battle, and that’s a fight John Edwards is ready for.”

That was Edwards 10 days ago.

Why the change of heart? Or better yet, what took Edwards so long to hear what democrats and most pundits were saying? (We won’t wag fingers, but there have been past and present contributors to this site who maintained Edwards was viable long after he was, well, viable.)

Interesting note, here’s what we had to say about Edwards in the oldest edition of the rankings available at PD. (several editions were lost during the redesign)

Date: November 6, 2006 – Ranking: 3) “As one reader told us, Edwards problem isn’t just that he’s an empty suit, he’s an empty $3,000 hand-made Italian suit talking about poverty when the issue is barely a blip on voters’ minds. His one advantage? He polls well, and for that he stays in the lead pack.”

For a slightly more in depth analysis of why Edwards never caught on, read this fine piece from Time.

So what’s your take? Was it the haircuts? (Which fueled some of my best jokes on Fox.) Was is the emergence of Obama from nowhere? Certainly J-Ed thought his chief competitor would be Hillary. Or was it the perception that he’d been rejected once by democrats, (and general election voters as VP) and he’d not given them any reason to allow him another shot?

Time to chime.