Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Republican Race Open, but not THAT Open

This blog is in response to a comment on my previous post, by Ben Degrow over at Mt Virtus. His comment reads:

Respectfully...You wrote in an earlier post: "Should Mitt Romney take the top spot in Michigan, he and Huckabee will battle it out in SC, where it will likely be Huckabee's last stand." Given this previous statement and the fact that Huckabee SC shares are not selling at all on Intrades, do you see anything in tonight's modest 3rd-place MI performance (you predicted he would win here, so this has got to be a big disappointment) to turn around his plummeting SC numbers? Do you see SC as a 3-way race between McCain, Romney, & Thompson (whom you earlier predicted would dropout after the Iowa caucuses)? Do you still think Thompson will have an"embarrassing finish" in SC and withdraw? After this unexpected turn of events (Huckabee in IA, McCain in NH, now Romney in MI), how big of an opening do you see for Rudy's strategy to pay off? Do you agree that this race will continue to defy the pundits & the predictions? (

Let me first begin by congratulating Mitt Romney on his win in Michigan. Michigan was always a pro Romney state, but the big surprise was the McCain surge, making Huckabee a non-player in the state. Ben is right on, and I agree that this race is still open... and it will continue to defy the pundits and predictions... However, without predictions, what fun is it in tracking the race so closely?

Regarding Romney's landslide... we must consider the fact that Michigan is an open priamry state, and the Democrats had nothing to vote for on their ticket... so:
Michigan's open primary means Republicans, Democrats, and independents can all
vote in it. Since there's no contested primary on the Dem side, their
participation in the GOP contest could be a wild card. Daily Kos steward
Markos Moulitsas, hoping desperately to be mistaken for a Machiavellian genius,
is encouraging his minions to vote for Romney for mischief's sake, under the
assumption that if he doesn't win today, he drops out. Kos reasons his
side prefers Romney staying in the race so that the well-funded bloodsport of
primary battling will continue among Republicans, presumably injuring the
eventual nominee.

Let's discuss how open the race is, and what SC means to which candidates.

Ben, who is a Fred Thompson guy, seems to be holding out for Thompson in SC. And Fred Thompson, who seems to sometimes be a Fred Thompson guy, is also holding out for something big in SC. I just don't see that happening. Fred is in SC, trying to make his stand, but doing so with absolutely no momentum from the first three contests. In the state, Fred Thompson support has gone from over 20% to just under 10% in the last three months... and nothing has happened to suggest a boomlet in Thompson's favor. I still stand by my word that this may be Thompson's last stand. Anything less than a 2nd place finish for Thompson in SC kills any chance for a momentum boomlet. (My Iowa prediction of Thomspon's withdrawal was hampered by a close third place battle between he and McCain, which almost forced him to stay in and take a stand in SC... but it did not help his numbers... they continue to fall)

So to answer the question of "is SC really a McCain, Romney, Thompson showdown?"... the answer is no... the race is open, but not that open! And Huckabee is still alive and well in the Palmetto State. Romney's win yesterday likely stifled McCain's boom, but I don't think it hurt Huckabee... What is hurting Huckabee is the McCain boom... so Romney's wion can only help Huckabee in SC. Based on the intensity of McCain's surge post NH, which was unforeseen at the time I made the two man race prediction, SC is very much a three way race. But Thompson is not in the top three. It will be a Huckabee, McCain, Romney battle in SC. Thompson, unless he can muster up some momentum in the next week, will likely be finished... I know I predicted a withdrawal after Iowa, but maybe the old man stays in to be part of the delegate race. The 4th place finish will be an embarrassment to the Thompson campaign. Remember, Thompson was elevated to savior status before getting into the race. He has, arguably, yet to finish above 4th (or 200 votes from finishing 4th in Iowa)

Regarding the Intratrade... I visited the intratrade site, and there was not an option to buy Huckabee stock in the state. He is not listed. Never was. So I am not using that as a measuring device.

The race is open... indeed! It could not be looking better for Rudy in Florida, though I think his decision to sit out the early contests likely makes him a non-contender in Super Tuesday states now... perhaps Florida could turn that around.

But what do I see in my crystal ball?

For starters, I will tell you what I did NOT see. I did NOT see McCain having such an effective surge... especially in the wake of the Illegal Immigration Shamnesty plan that he tried to ram down our throats. Maybe Tancredo's withdrawal from the race took some of that pressure off McCain, and the issue out of the limelight.

I did NOT see Rudy falling off as much as he has! Rudy is currently polling nationally at 13%, tied with Romney for a distant 3rd. By the time we get to Florida, Rudy will likely be battling Fred in national polls for 4th, somewhere around 10%. That is not a good place to be heading into Super Duper Tuesday.

And I did NOT see Ron Paul beating out Thompson in a state like Michigan. That doesn't do much for Ron Paul at this point, but it doesn't say much for Thompson's support in the state of Michigan.

At this point, we need to take a compass reading. Nevada will likely not give us that reading. Nevada is so wide open, and clearly blowing in the direction of the momentum, that it will likely be a race between the top four: McCain, Rudy, Huckabee, Romney.

If McCain takes SC, McCain will likely win out. If Huckabee takes SC, it will likely move the battle to a two man race on super tuesday. If Romney takes SC, Huckabee's run is likely over, and McCain will likely win out on Super Tuesday, with Romney and Huckabee finishing in a series of 2nds and 3rds... obviously some 1st's in their stronghold states. I don't see Rudy's plan paying off, and I don't see Fred Thompson as a major player anymore.

I am still predicting a brokered convention...

One thing that I know is that the water is very muddy leading up to Super Tuesday!

God Bless!


  1. A note on SC. The last Rasmussen poll out of SC on Monday had McCain at 28%, Huckabee at 19%, Romney 17%, and Thompson at 16%. The only people moving were Huckabee (five points down) and Thompson (four points up).

    I doubt Romney gets much of a bounce out of Michigan. A strong 2nd place for Thompson might be meaningless (it would certainly cripple Huckabee) or it could help in the southern states.

  2. Agreed. Huckabee's movement in the state is directly related to McCains. At this point, they are in direct contest for the same voters, it would seem. (this is based on mcCains big surge in the state)

    Thompson's bump is due to his visibility. He has been very low profile, and it has cost him much in the way of support. As the Undecideds start seeing more of all the candidates in the state, you will see some numbers move... but it all may be too little too late for Thompson.