The symposium on the Huck victory linked by Joe below is really remarkably ungracious and generally obtuse. Huck is an intelligent man with a reasonably coherent (if very undetailed) message. He’s to the left of the Repbulican center on economics and to the right on the social issues. And he appeals to the anxieties of a lot of the middle class. As David Brooks pointed out today, he appreciates the connection between economic and moral insecurity, and he’s a rather consistent (from the perspective of a Reagan Democrat or evangelical Republican) anti-elitist.
It goes without saying that his campaign has been way too narrowly evangelical, which surely will make it difficult for him to reach out now to like-minded Catholics and Mormons. But it’s still been an impressive campaign in a lot of ways. Iowa is not a particularly flaky state. It’s a swing state with a relatively highly educated population. New Hampshire is a lot stranger.
Again, I’m not endorsing Huck or anything like that. The problem the Republicans have now is that, from the perspective of the so-called Reagan coalition, there are no real Republicans left in the race. Huck and McCain actually pride themselves in their dissent from characteristic Republican positions on domestic issues. And Giuliani dissents on the social issues.
There may be hope for orthodox Republicans in an energized Romney campaigning hard against McCain’s domestic incompetence over the next couple of days. He can reasonably say that on many key issues he’s the only real Republican in the race. Maybe adversity will show his character. And his new "change agent" slogan that Washington is the problem and McCain is part of the problem might work.
Again, I’m not for Romney either (for now). He’s been a pitiful candidate so far. Money, organization, policy wonkiness, and determination to succeed aren’t enough. Both he and Hillary reminded us of that. And Peter’s right (see below) about the personal qualities and personal talk that link Huck and Obama together.