Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Super Tuesday: the day after for Republicans

Here are CNN’s results page and its main election page, with delegate counts. You can read the summary stories here, here, here, and here. You can read analysis here, here, and here.

Going forward, McCain looks unbeatable. He’d have to self-destruct.

I’m also still not buying the argument that Huckabee is preventing Romney from consolidating the conservative opposition to McCain. First of all, in only four states that McCain won was the combined Romney-Huckabee vote total higher. In two (California and Delaware), Romney finished a relatively distant second; in the other two (Missouri and Oklahoma), Huckabee finished a close second. It seems to me at least as plausible to say that Romney harmed Huckabee as to say that Mike hurt Mitt.

Second, those who make this argument assume that "conservatism" is so salient for voters that their preferences are simply transferable from one "conservative" to another. Might not character or particular issues matter more? Indeed, isn’t it McCain’s stance on particular issues--as opposed to his overall orientation--that leads some to declare he’s not a conservative?

Third, note that in many places--California, for example--McCain gets a significant portion of the "conservative vote." To be sure, in California he lost the "very conservative" vote (roughly a quarter of the Republican electorate) quite substantially, but even if all the "very conservative" Huckabee supporters had gone over to Romney (a totally implausible scenario in any event), McCain still would have won...and handily. It’s more likely that on some issues (e.g., the war) or some dimensions (e.g., character or leadership) or some considerations (e.g., electability), some conservatives are going to choose McCain over Romney. Taking Huckabee out of the picture doesn’t change any of this. And, to be fair, taking Romney out of the picture wouldn’t enable Huckabee to climb Mount McCain.

Finally, if you look at the distribution of the self-identified Republican vote in the states McCain won, there are four (CA, IL, MO, and OK) in which his percentage of the Republican vote was lower than the combined Romney-Huckabee proportion. McCain did worst in states--Missouri and Oklahoma--where Huckabee came in a close second. Indeed, if all these states had closed primaries, Huckabee would have won Missouri and tied McCain in Oklahoma. And the only way Romney could have won in California and Illinois is by taking an implausibly high share (75%+ in CA, 85%+ in IL) of the Huckabee vote. In other words, McCain did quite well among Republicans, winning outright majorities in three of his states and effectively insurmountable pluralities in three others. In the other two, he would have tied Huckabee or finished a close third behind Huckabee and Romney.

I’m far from arguing that McCain is the perfect Republican or conservative candidate, but there is no one in this race who is doing so much better as to be the Republican or conservative.

And, by the way, I didn’t vote for McCain yesterday, though, unlike James Dobson, I could vote for him in a general election.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Election night doting:

Watched the election at a house party with a very liberal crowd. There were 10 total; 2 Republicans. Both me and the other Republican are ok with McCain and Huckabee-he supports former as his number one choice, I support the latter. The Democrats were 7 to 1 for Barack, and all seemed fairly happy with the extreme liberalism of both. The choice for Barack over Hillary is simply rhetorical, electability, and youth (since these are all people in their 20's). We all despised Romney. Huckabee got decent reviews for likeability but was deemed to conservative to win any votes other than us two Republicans. McCain and Hillary is clearly the best chance for a Republican in the White House; two Democrats there seriously will consider voting for McCain in this scenario. They gleefully pointed out McCain's poor speaking and age, contrasted with Obama.

The liberals all criticized the GOP wives, and I must say not without some affect.
Mrs. Huckabee is too plain, and I'd have to say that Mike does look about as good as she does. If you get married at 18 in Arkansas...
Mrs. McCain is a bit flaky, at least by appearance. She has a lot of fashion going on, but sets her own out-of-style look. Seemed pretty stuck on herself.
Mrs. Romney looked mad. She glared behind Mitt the whole time he spoke. Perhaps it angers her to watch her husband fail for the first time ever; or thinking about all their money he wasted doing it. She also seemed (like Mitt) be a little vain, overestimating her own virtues.

For what it's not worth, I think that they'd all be fine first ladies, although there are in McCain and Huckabee's wife a few lost votes to the extent anyone considers the superficial. For my money, I'd go with Mrs. Huckabee being the nicest and classiest first lady; in women especially, modesty is a very high virtue.

"Conservative" voters -- whatever "conservative" means nowadays -- are starting to accept what appears to be the inevitable and are swinging over to McCain. I think Romney is done after the next round of primaries. As soon as Romney is gone, Huckabee will step away as well.

The sole question in my mind with regard to a McCain presidency is this: which McCain will show up? The chastened McCain? Or the McCain of old who does what best suits John McCain.

I want to think the former. My heart believes the latter.

Clearer now than it has been for some time: conservative is one thing, Republican is another. I know I've said otherwise before, but maybe it's better that the non-conservative Republicans are gathered around the McCain banner than the Giuliani one, in that it divides the coalition on a vague moderate v. conservative divide, and on a personality-based (can you stand McCain's multiple hubrises or not?) divide, rather than the stark libertarian v. social conservative divide a Giuliani nomination would have given us.

It really is going to be painful to vote for McCain, but it now looks like I will have no other choice.

And the McCain Republicans, and their half-allies in the conservative establishment can moan all they want, but I will never admit or say that McCain is a conservative. I normally think word-fights over the tag "conservative" are fairly pathetic, but with McCain, it will matter. His team, his voters, are the lesser of two evils. They are not my team. Not a coalition that I consider myself a part of. McCain Republicans and their boosters should not come to me or the likes of me and say, "hey, where's your team-spirit?" It is not "derangement." It is a rational expectation that A) McCain can't win, and B) there is a strong likelihood he will be a disaster of a president if he does win, although a diaster of less scale than w/ Clinton or Obama, and C) in the slim chance he wins and governs effectively, there is a chance (although less so than had Giuliani been the nominee) that the Republican coalition will suffer deep-seated damage. Given Obama and Hillary, I'm willing to risk C). But given the likelihood of B), and our own difficulties in the unlikely event of C), conservatives should remain prickly about and well-distanced from McCain. He ain't our guy...not our even our third, fourth, or fifth choice. We warned you.

I’m far from arguing that McCain is the perfect Republican or conservative candidate, but there is no one in this race who is doing so much better as to be the Republican or conservative.

See Mr. Scott's post. McCain is not "the conservative" - he is Republican by definition, but not conservative.

It really is going to be painful to vote for McCain, but it now looks like I will have no other choice.

You have a choice. Do what you can to help a third party, or stay home and help the liberal/third party wing of the GOP from having any more influence. With out their man in the White House, the McCain/Big Business wing will not be able to ride roughshod over the conservatives in the congress.

"hey, where's your team-spirit?"

Your going to hear ALOT of that here at No Left Turns I am afraid. Perhaps it's an academic curse - always thinking and playing the game leads to confusion over basic terms? Perhaps it's simply they are GOP first, and conservative a distant second?

Interesting, Christopher, that you identify McCain as the big business guy. Makes sense in terms of immigration, not so much, though, on ANWR, tax cuts, McCain-Feingold, and there are others... Interesting b/c I am hearing from many that Romney was the big business guy. All this is to say that once Giuliani was out of the race the socially-libertarian big-business Republican vote would become fractured. That's one of the things I was rooting for in Romney: the marriage, shot-gun for some, more natural for others, of social cons and the business-first types. Note the past tense.

So, there are different types of business-first Republicans, and I don't think that a social-con like myself can exactly blame them for McCain's success. Business-wise, he really isn't their guy.

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