Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Random Observations on McCain

1. His victory is narrow but real. No doubt Huck would have won had I not withheld my one-day/one-state endorsement. I actually heard some speculation that Huck’s flag comments hurt him in the "new" South Carolina earlier in the day. In general, Huck’s last week of campaigning was pretty uninspired.

2. The accusation the Fred was in the race merely to help McCain is surely untrue. But that was the "effectual truth" of the matter. Fred’s scattershot attacks on Huck didn’t help himself, but hurt Huck. And when Giuliani and Romney supporters cheered them, they did so not realizing they were also hurting their own candidate. Only today, belatedly, did they start to root for Huck in SC at the Corner.

3. McCain will be very hard to stop now. His lead in the national polls will increase, as will margins in California, New Jersey, and other states formerly thought to be Rudy locks.

4. Before tonight, Florida was sort of a four-way tie. But Huck will surely start to slide, and his vote will be split between Mitt and John, with most probably going to McCain. The slight chance of a Giuliani victory in Florida depended on a four-candidate race.

5. Now Romney really needs to win Florida, and it’s not impossible, but very unlikely. If McCain wins in Florida, it’s hard to see why he wouldn’t dominate the heck out of Feb. 5.

6. Another McCain advantage: When Fred drops out of the race, he’ll endorse McCain. If Huck were to drop out after a poor showing in Florida, he’ll almost surely endorse McCain (hoping, for one thing, to be on his ticket). If Giuliani were to drop out after finishing third in Florida, he’d surely endorse McCain. The more winnowing that occurs, the more isolated Mitt will seem.

7. Four more points: One reason McCain won in SC is they let people 65 and over vote there. Huck won the "youth" vote--those under 65. Huck, once again, was unable to attract many observant Catholic votes; they apparently went (once again) for Romney. Mitt erred by "pulling out" of SC, where he could have gotten, I think, a "better than expected" medal, at least. McCain may not have campaigned everywhere, but he never announced he wasn’t playing anywhere. Same with Huck, after all.

Discussions - 16 Comments

Rudy is now in SERIOUS trouble in Florida. If McCain gets a bounce, and there's little reason to conclude otherwise, even if it's a small bounce, Rudy's slender grip on his poll numbers in Florida will slacken.

I think Rudy needs Thompson to drop out, so that attention can be focused on the respective resumes of the four men left. McCain is advantaged by a fractured field. Whereas Rudy's campaign hoped he would be the one to reap most of that political windfall, it's been McCain's numbers that have risen.

But Rudy needn't panic yet. For those who will well and truly panic are Limbaugh, Levin, Ingraham, Hannity, Hewitt and Roger Hedgecock. Come Monday they'll go after McCain in a manner that will make their previous barrages against him seem tame. McCain's victory will awaken passionate resistance to his nomination. McCain has made so many enemies that his biography won't be able to soar above them all. Just wait and watch.

Dan, per usual your political analysis is well stated.

Peter is making most of the pertinent points too.

I have a few minor and less worthy additions.

1. Huck's strength in the youth vote proves that he is probably the Republican of the future, and whoever the candidate is had better study his template, and/or nominate him VP. >Br>2. South Carolina is the first state that Romney didn't "medal" in-a rather noteworthy blow. Darn I hate that little "medal" schtick he does!
3. Giuliani at 2%, behind Paul!
4. Mitt Romney got nearly 3 times more votes in his fourth place SC finish than he did in winning NV. That might say something-er actually a lot-about that Gold Medal...maybe he won the hundred meter diaper derby.
5. The race looks likely to end where it began-McCain. In 2006, it seemed obvious that McCain was best positioned to take over the party once Bush left office, and that seems to be the case now.
6. John McCain is a good candidate for the party, particularly if paired (his VP choice will be very important given his age) with a younger, nicer guy...Huckabee seems obvious or maybe Mark Sandford. McCain is a principled conservative, for those worried this speech is a strong defense of our shared Republican and American principles. He's certainly a candidate that I and many others will be confident in rallying behind.

Sorry, I've been busy with media till now. McCain was very lucky here. First, Thompson cut severely into Huck's potential upstate vote. Second, Romney and Rudy's joint abandonment of SC led to many of their supporters voting in the end for McCain. It's not that that many more conservatives voted for McCain this time as opposed to 2000; it's that the conservative vote was muddled. The Greenville County vote was a shockeroo. More later....

When Fred drops out of the race, he’ll endorse McCain.

A lot of Fred supporters will have egg on their faces if so. Including me. I'd say the typical Fred supporter detests McCain.

The accusation the Fred was in the race merely to help McCain is surely untrue. But that was the "effectual truth" of the matter.

I can't argue with that.

Now Romney really needs to win Florida, and it’s not impossible, but very unlikely

I think Fred gets out now. If not officially, then for all practical purposes. And I think most of his support goes to Romney, regardless of any endorsement Fred makes. So I think Romney has a decent shot at Florida.

As regards your point #6, it does seem to be Romney versus all the rest. That just confirms me in the belief that he is the best guy left.

Mitt Romney got nearly 3 times more votes in his fourth place SC finish than he did in winning NV. That might say something-er actually a lot-about that Gold Medal...maybe he won the hundred meter diaper derby.

Romney won more delegates in NV than McCain and Huch did combined in SC. Which one is the diaper derby?

And Romney has gathered move votes overall than any other candidate, including McCain.

John McCain is a good candidate for the party

He will finish the destruction of the GOP which George W Bush has so successfully begun. Is that your idea of being a good candidate?

I'm inclined to agree with John about Romney in NV. It seemed like the better wager to make. If he had campaigned in SC he still wouldn't have won and the message would be that he is weak and vulnerable.

Still, McCain is the man to beat for practical purposes. SC was and clearly is the headliner primary today.

I can't imagine conservatives going with McCain if he is comes out with the nomination (staying home instead). I would not go with Mitt, but I can see more conservatives talking themselves into supporting him. Short of the GOP finding about 10 points somewhere else, it will be the Dem's this year.

What will be interesting to me is whether the GOP ends up with a conservative leader in 2012 and beyond. I hope Huck does not end up endorsing McCain or worse running with him, as that will come back to haunt him I think if has future ambitions...

I don't think Romney "needs" to win Florida. He's not in the same boat as Giuliani. I think he made a smart move by making sure he won Nevada. He can claim a victory today, and the media was forced to cover him. He's still part of the unfolding story.

Giuliani has to make himself part of that story, and the only way he can do that is win something. And "something" means Florida. I don't see how Super Tuesday can help him without him going into it with a wind at his back. He has to gain some momentum somewhere.

Romney still has money to spend.

What are McCain's finances like? Super Tuesday will require media buys the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time, because it's been a long while since Super Tuesday really decided anything. Usually the races were decided by then, which left Super Tuesday superfluous. But not this year.

I think Romney is in a very good spot right now. Conservative radio is going to start opening fire on McCain, and they're going to start firing for effect. Which candidate is left who can benefit from that? Not Thompson, he doesn't have the organization, he doesn't have the money. Not Huckabee, he has the same shortcomings. And Rudy could easily be effectively out of it after Florida, EVEN BEFORE Super Tuesday.

Which leaves a one on one between Romney and McCain. The former is a flipper and the latter is semi-loathed, and furthermore, the latter REFUSES to reach out to Limbaugh, refuses to admit that the amnesty bill WAS an amnesty bill, and refuses to reach out towards the base.

I think Romney might get it. And he's going to have more money to spend hereinafter. That's a consideration. We have to wait for Florida.

I think CHRISTOPHER made the salient point, which was "more conservatives ... [will talk] ... themselves into supporting Romney" than they will McCain. Which means Romney gets the nomination.

I think I'll go put some money on Romney getting it. The only way I see him not getting it is Giuliani getting Florida, finishing strong in Super Tuesday, and driving McCain out of the race, which would make it a Giuliani v. Romney matchup.

But say Giuliani wins Florida and does well on Super Tuesday, McCain does well on Super Tuesday, Romney does less well, but is not clearly thrust aside. In a three-way race, Romney still might have the Inside Straight.

Man I'd love to see Romney's inner poll numbers right about now, but I think he's going to do it. A most tremendous barrage is going to descend on McCain come Monday. Romney won't even have to do anything. All he'll have to do is go on the talk shows and look presidential. Talk about a political windfall!

If the general election turns out to be McCain vs. Clinton, I predict it'll have one of the lowest turnouts of the last 24 years. Those who vote will do so without much enthusiasm.

Oh, and Clinton will win easily. This country does not like granting the White House three consecutive terms to the same party. It'll do it (Bush over Dukakis in 1988) but only when left no other chance.

Romney won more delegates in NV than McCain and Huch did combined in SC. Which one is the diaper derby?

Not true. Romney got 17 pledged delegates in NV; McCain got 15 in SC, and Huck got 3. Facts are tough things that always dog Romney's claims.

Listen to the news. The media report is about McCain's win in SC, Hillary's win in NV, and a short mention of Romney in NV, that says how meaningless it was. The only other person competing was Paul. In fact Romney's "golds" are from two states where no one competed, and his daddy's old state. He can't do anything when faced with real competition.

Dan, of course talk radio will go beserk, but they are not powerful enough to stop McCain this time. Sure in 2000 McCain was stopped by people, but mainly by Bush-a great conservative candidate. Romney is not 1/4 of the candidate that Bush was, so McCain need not worry too much.

SC is a bigger state than NV, a more Republican state, and just more orthodox. Could someone explain how the GOP assigns delegates and how the state of NV could have more than SC??


I'm no RNC rule scholar, but I believe the answer to your question can be found under Rule 13 at

Thanks Judd, interesting. I started to calculate, and then realized that it takes looking up office holders of the state and all kinds of stuff. It makes little sense, as we both know there are more GOP voters in SC than NV. Rules are rules, but they seem stupid to me.


SC was stripped of half of its delegates for moving its primary ahead.

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