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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Florida Primary Results Analyzed

Last night, four former favorites for the Republican nomination were cursing under their breaths as an unabashedly grinning John McCain stood over his podium, pretending to have won only the Florida Primary.

The McCain campaign bottomed out last summer, with less national support than three other candidates, with less money then four other candidates, with no backing in Iowa, and with his wrinkled and battle-scarred face mirroring the state of his campaign.

Now, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and Mike Huckabee must be asking themselves, "How the heck did John McCain win my nomination?"



Well, Presidential Politics for America predicted last year, re-predicted before Iowa, reaffirmed it after South Carolina, and explained it a week ago today. So it was already over. But now it's reeeeeally over.

John McCain's Florida victory and ensuing endorsement from Rudy Giuliani, has relegated the rest of the Republican Primary to window dressing. While it can be expected that Mitt Romney is nowhere close to bowing out, for reasons to be explained soon, there is nothing left in the party that can stop the Straight Talk Express.

Let's take a look at the top 10 reasons McCain will win Super Tuesday and the nomination.

1. He has the lead in the delegate count, so he has horse race coverage going for him, not to mention the remaining undecided voters who want to support the eventual winner.
McCain - 93
Romney - 59
Huckabee - 40

2. He and Romney have each won three states to Huckabee's one, but one of Romney's was Wyoming.

3. McCain has won the last two states, South Carolina and Florida, to obtain all momentum.

4. Before those two states, many conservatives pointed to the fact that McCain was only doing well because of crossover appeal to open primaries. Both South Carolina and Florida were states where only registered Republicans could vote in the Republican Primary.

5. McCain is commonly regarded as the Republican with the best chance to win the general election, especially against Hillary Clinton. This cannot be underestimated, as the Republican Party is much better than their counterparts at casting aside differences in order to win elections.

6. The Rudy Giuliani endorsement consolidates almost total power among hawkish foreign policy voters. They are the same type of candidate, minimizing social issues important to the party in favor of prioritizing, you know, being alive to bicker about these social issues. This brings over the 10-15% of the country still leaning towards Giuliani. This also eases the decision for voters' undecided between the two.

7. Knocking out Giuliani and earning his endorsement sews up California (174 delegates) and New York (101), each are winner-take-all Super Tuesday states. Those two states will widen the lead to what will seem insurmountable.

8. Unlike Romney, Huckabee has left his gloves on when it comes to challenging McCain's recent spike in support. He's refused to significantly attack McCain on any issue, either in debates or ads. Instead, Huckabee has actually washed McCain in praise. It is a real possibility Huckabee is campaigning for the Vice-Presidency.

9. There might even be a wink and a nod between the two campaigns. As long as Huckabee stays in, he's siphoning votes away from Romney's social conservative base. As much as Giuliani dropping out helps McCain, Huckabee staying hurts Romney. If it was just down to McCain vs. Romney, it'd be a spectacular battle between the foreign policy conservatives and social moderates vs. the base of the Republican Party.

10. While the conservative media (Fox News, Limbaugh and co.) will do all they can to rally conservatives around Romney, the mainstream and liberal media will cover every McCain triumph and like doing it, because they've always been find of McCain.

Still, if there's any hope that this still goes to a brokered convention, it's that some time between now and Super Tuesday, conservatives will do their very best to rally around Mitt Romney. If they had any pause about supporting him because he was a Mormon or because he had a history of saying liberal things or because he was spending too much money and still losing, those will all go by the way side. Any social conservative supporting Huckabee, who now realizes not only does Huckabee have no chance to win, but he might even be on McCain's side in this, will go to Romney.

It will turn into a zero-sum contest between McCain and Romney, with the other candidates doing very little the rest of the way. McCain's national numbers will go into the 40's, Romney's into the 30's. Rush Limbaugh and conservative radio will rail against McCain for a week, bringing up McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, McCain-Lieberman and the rest of McCain's maverick tendencies to remind the Republican Party why they did not nominate him in 2000. Romney will see a lot of conservative money for the next week with promises of more to come. He'll combine that cash with his own wealth and blitzkrieg the airwaves across the country in order to subdue McCain's vote tally on February 5th.

But none of that will work. John McCain is going to win the nomination. The party will rally around him after this is evident. Then they will sit and wait for the Democrats to find someone to go up against him.

Speaking of the Democrats, they deserve some ink, so check back in tomorrow.

1 comment:

Robert Allen said...

Holy smokes, good stuff.

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