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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Michigan Results Analyzed

Son of a gun. So Romney's back in it and McCain's chances have taken a hit. Are we headed for a brokered convention?

Mitt Romney's win in Michigan means that he, Mike Huckabee (Iowa), and John McCain (New Hampshire) have earned a win in each of the first three major primaries (Wyoming can be glossed over, but that went to Romney, too). And of course there's Giuliani's strength in the big states lurking for February 5th. So who's the favorite?

Is it...

Mitt Romney? - Second in Iowa, First in Wyoming, Second in New Hampshire, First in Michigan. No other candidate's numbers look nearly that good. Plus, his breakthrough win in Michigan might make South Carolina a three-way race with Huckabee and McCain. So why isn't Romney the clear favorite? It just seems like the GOP is fighting his nomination. He poured money into Iowa. He poured money into New Hampshire. He did that for nearly all of 2007 and he lost both states. All it took was very little campaign time for Wyoming and Michigan to garner wins for Romney. It seems anyone who's overexposed to Romney ends up voting for someone else, and it's unlikely Romney doesn't write more huge checks to buy add time in South Carolina.

Rudy Giuliani? - Rudy Giuliani has been a non-factor in every primary, and this will continue in Nevada and South Carolina. He remains competitive in Florida, California, New York, New Jersey, and a handful of mid-sized states. The problem is he continues to fall in these polls after every horrendous showing in an early primary, and this will continue after finishing out of the top four in Nevada and South Carolina on this and the following Saturday, respectively. There's a strong possibility that he loses his lead in every sizeable state except New York and New Jersey, and a smattering of smaller states like Connecticut and, well, just Connecticut. Those three states, though they will add up to over a hundred delegates, will not be enough to make a run, though they could be enough to stop a Republican nomination.

Mike Huckabee? - Huckabee still should be considered the favorite in South Carolina. He should still be considered the favorite for much of the Midwest and Deep South. He should still be considered the favorite for winning the far right social conservatives that often steer the Republican Party. But should he be considered the favorite for the Republican nomination? I don't see how he can be. His appeal outside of the Midwest and Deep South is limited, evidenced by third place finishes in New Hampshire, Michigan, and his earning of zero delegates in Wyoming. The larger states with more metropolitan areas are more likely to opt for one of the other three candidates. No candidate can win without winning cities and big states, which does not bode well for the Huckabee campaign. He'll need a South Carolina and Florida win if he wants to see those larger states choose him over McCain and Giuliani.

John McCain? - Last night's Michigan loss was disappointing, but by no means backbreaking. Simply, a Michigan win would have put McCain in position for a South Carolina win. Those two wins would have resulted in a runaway McCain nomination. All the second place finish means is that McCain's road to victory becomes a bit more difficult. South Carolina is a three-way race with Huckabee and Romney. The winner of that will be the leader heading into Super Tuesday, but as long as McCain doesn't finish at a distant third, he will remain the favorite.

Ultimately, McCain is the candidate that the Republican Party can rally around easiest. For eight years, he's been the third most visible face of the party, after President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. He's been at the front of a war that is still popular with Fox News and the party. He led a troop surge which has quelled violence. He has a record that is more conservative than many think, though isolated maverick forays like McCain-Feingold have always been a trademark considered undesirable in the Republican Party.


John McCain is the favorite for the Republican nomination but is by no means a lock. Unless some power brokering occurs behind closed doors, this primary will last through March, and maybe April, May, and the Republican convention.

So here's to a Huckabee South Carolina win and a strong Giuliani showing on Super Tuesday.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis. But the way things are going, the winner of each primary doesn't seem much more important than who came in second and third. Those who lag behind in one primary can obviously turn things around n the next. So what's the win-place-show call for South Carolina? And what difference does it make to come in behind the winner?

Darren said...

The biggest difference is that the closer to "Super Tuesday", the better it is to come in first. People will forget who won Wyoming and Iowa by then and remember who came in first in South Carolina and Florida. That could be the difference maker. The only thing that not having a clear winner in consecutive primaries does for Republicans is to allow more candidates to stay in the race and to give voters more choices - (as if that's not obvious). As long as the two second tier candidates stay in the race, the harder it is for the three top tier candidates to win with a large majority. Just wait until Giuliani enters the race....

South Carolina will finish
1. Huckabee
2. McCain
3. Romney
4. Thompson

McCain could win the state if Thompson were to drop out but I think he pulls enough conservative voters away from McCain to keep him from first.

The Dude said...

You Play to Win the Game!!!-Herm Edwards

Of coarse winning matters. There are still so many undecideds to be hoodwinked.

The SC Republican primary is like a wide open Scalabrine jumper from the corner, ...pretty exciting for white people.

I think the Can's shape up and realize McCain is the only one who can unit the party against the Dems. No matter what Bob Jones and the god squad has to say....

McCain, Huck, Romney, Paul

IC said...

The Dude, your Scalabrine line made me laugh out loud.

All three of you really brought the strong comments for this post. I think Huck takes the state, with McCain and Romney placing and showing. In Nevada, it'll be McCain, Romney, Huckabee. Thompson, Giuliani, and Paul trail in single digits in both states.

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