Well my record of predictions remains a perfect 0-for-the 2008 Campaign. I thought that Romney would be able to buy a state and the conservative base would reject John McCain, but again I was wrong.
McCain's end of the race endorsements from Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist proved enough to win McCain his first ever 'Republican Only' primary. Crist got a lot of kudos from the pundits last evening for delivering Florida. I think the week long campaigning of McCain and Martinez all over Florida really proved key. Exit polls showed McCain winning 54% of the Latino vote, while Romney finished behind Giuliani and only garnered 14% of the vote. Without the McCain domination in the Latino community Romney wins.
Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, etc of the Republican party keep proclaiming McCain will not win because conservative voters don't like and trust him. Their support aside, it is hard to see Romney being able to stop him. Particularly beneficial to McCain is the presence of Mike Huckabee in the race who is the true choice of the social conservatives which will hurt Romney. As for Huckabee, he does not appear to be going away, if for no other reason to stick it to Romney where there is apparent bad blood that still resonates from the negative attacks in Iowa.
In looking at February 5 states which like Florida are 'winner take all' McCain looks very strong in the big ones and with the Giuliani endorsement should win New York, New Jersey, and his home state of Arizona. That's 216 delegates. In 'winner take all' primaries Romney will win Utah and maybe Montana because of big Mormon turnout, but needs to win either Virginia or Missouri to keep the race close. He may pump in another $20-$30million which will help, but unless McCain trips over himself at the debate tonight or does something really stupid, he should be the nominee.
As far as the Dems, while think Hillary was absurd in 'claiming victory' think she had a good night. She asserted herself as the face of the campaign instead of Bill which she had to do. Most encouraging sign for the Dems is 1.3 million votes were cast and none of them campaigned or had turnout operations. That was only 300K votes less than the Republicans.
Now to Rudy Giuliani. As in my previous post "Farewell Fred" I had planned to rip the Rudy Giuliani campaign apart today when he dropped out. However, not going that route today. Instead was struck by something Rudy said in his speech last night and think it applies to both parties.
In my opinion, Rudy in reality never really had a chance to win the Republican nomination because unlike Mitt Romney he did not reverse his entire set of beliefs. Rudy remained Pro-Choice and Anti-Gun and as long as he held those beliefs he would never have had a real chance to win in a Primary. He would have appealed to more votes in the General Election. Surprised I'm about to say this, but I give Rudy credit for not selling his soul and flip flopping on all his beliefs to win the nomination in the same way that Romney has.
While not a great orator, Rudy said last night and I paraphrase. "We need to reestablish the Republican Party as the party of freedom, we are the party of the people, and we are a big party. I am even in this party, its a big party."
While I do not agree the Republicans are the party of people or freedom, I think the ugliness of Presidential Primaries shows us time and again that in BOTH parties, a small number of issues, can sink a campaign. Wedge issues like guns, abortion, reforming entitlements, views on social issues, etc can take a qualified candidate and destroy them. Giuliani had more problems than just his abortion and gun view, but all you have to do is look at the way John McCain is being attacked by the right wing of the Republicans would have been on Giuliani as well had he been in the front runner spot.
If Hillary or Obama came out against abortion or against Gun Control there would be similar attacks levied by the Democrats as well. Giuliani also said, 'we need to compete in all 50 states.' Howard Dean said the same thing 4 years ago and they are both right.
As someone who used to work campaigns I know the strategy is always to win 50%+1 of the votes. It often means antagonizing the other 49.99% but winning is always the end game. In Presidential politics 270 electoral votes is the magic number. States like South Carolina, Mississippi, Idaho, etc are never visited by either candidate because they will go in the R column. The Dems are the same. They visit their big core states but its not often you see a Dem campaign in Hawaii, Massachusett, or Washington DC.
Rudy is the latest example of a true moderate trying to run for his parties nomination who was crushed by his ideology not being right or left enough. Voters say they want moderates and more and more of them fall in the middle, but primary after primary are won and dominated by the idealogues of both parties.