The WaPo’s Chris Cillizza thinks that the ground in a slightly more yankified South Carolina favors McCain this time, especially as Huckabee doesn’t have the socially conservative evangelicals to himself.
Quin Hillyer thinks that genuine conservatives ought to vote for Thompson on philosophical grounds, Giuliani supporters ought to support him to promote nomentum going into Florida, socons because Huckabee hasn’t shown the capacity to build a coalition around them, and South Carolina patriots to put a finger in the eyes of voters in the three states that voted earlier and to make the winner all the more indebted to them. We’ll see whether they all take his advice.
The latest Rasmussen poll suggests that Thompson has a long way to go, and that, if he gains, it will likely be at the expense of Romney, not at that of McCain and Huckabee (who are tied, with the latter having caught up with the former, thanks, probably, to Romney’s victory in Michigan). What hurts Huckabee is that social issues just don’t loom that large in the S.C. Republican electorate. What hurts McCain is that immigration does. If I were Huckabee, I’d stress my economic message. If I were McCain, I’d focus on national security. If I were Thompson, I’d throw everything I had at Romney, hoping to bleed enough voters from him to catch up to McCain and Huckabee. And if I were were Romney, I’d want anyone but McCain to win the race, because I’d be confident that no one can match my campaign spending from here on out.
Update: A Rich Lowry emailer argues that a number of polls overstated McCain’s support in Michigan (which would seem to hearten Huckabee supporters). But a quick look at this RCP chart for Michigan suggests that the only thing the pollsters didn’t get, on aggregate, was a big late break for Romney. Here is the current RCP chart for South Carolina.