Sunday, January 20, 2008

McCain Masters Mike

John McCain boosted his stock as the front runner in the GOP primaries after a critical win in South Carolina over closest rival Mike Huckabee. Winning by a slim 3 percentage points at 33% to Huckabee's 30%, McCain garnered 19 delegates as against Mike's 5. The win holds a special significance for McCain since it is in South Carolina where his previous attempt at becoming a US President fell through when he was beaten by George W. Bush 8 years ago. Also, the state's history in terms of primaries and elections is that it successfully picks the eventual party nominee since 1980. A sort of superstition that McCain probably enjoys.

The slim victory is not a very safe one, primarily because McCain was unable to set a foothold on the party's conservative bloc. Huckabee made strong emphasis of his conservative Christian credentials which netted him 40% of the votes of Born Again and Christian evangelicals who comprise about 60% of the voters. Of the non-evangelicals, Huckabee obtained only 12% as against McCain's 40%. McCain won in the areas where a lot of veterans reside and among blacks living in the coastal areas. Fred Thompson took a slice (16%) of the conservative votes that would have otherwise gone to Huckabee, but the end of the road for Thompson has come even with his 3rd place finish. Campaign funds are his biggest dilemma, and his weak showing,even in South Carolina, marks the end of his trail.

What is critical for John McCain is the persistent doubt about his immigration and Iraq War positions that alienate him from the party's conservative base. McCain is a sentimental favorite and his win is perhaps partly an expression of atonement for his loss here in 2000, where the lamented George W. Bush victory broke the back of his campaign, and subsequently became President. In part too, his victory can be viewed as personal charisma or likeability, because of his grandfatherish style and soothing manner. Another contributor to his victory is the strategy employed in positioning his friend Fred Thompson, to remove votes from Huckabee. The ploy obviously worked, and Fred can now take a bow and wait for his anointment as the Vice-Presidential running mate.

The GOP race remains wide open despite John McCain's breathing space. The economy was the number 1 issue followed by immigration in South Carolina. The Iraq war was in third. If these are the priorities of conservative America, McCain stands to have difficulty as the race progresses. In a contest that may be decided by the number of delegates up to convention time, the South Carolina primary produced only 19 delegates for the winner. Mitt Romney did well by avoiding South Carolina and picked up 18 delegates in Nevada. As it stands nationwide, Romney has 66 delegates pledged versus McCain's 38. Mitt's funding is solid and stable, McCain's fund sources may be trickling in. Viewed from this perspective, its easy to see why Mitt is confident of ultimate victory. It could be a long and expensive drawn out battle and he knows he has the resources to weather the costs. As to whether he can convince the majority of states with his funds on February 5, well that's another matter. Romney's problem is believability. He changes positions like he changes his underwear!



blogtommy said...

I've long believed McCain to be the likely Republican candidate, but Romney's bank roll will certainly compete until the end. If he stays close he could pull it out because of $$. But I think at some point the Republicans are going to have to decide on a contender who can beat the Democratic nominee which is still anybody's guess though it's hard to count out the Clinton political machine despite being an Obama supporter....T

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tommy, i just posted this and followed it up with the democrat results. I think that the run of Huckabee is coming to a close, same with Fred Thompson.

As to the Democrats, I believe their dirty tactics, if it continues, will cause their defeat in November to the GOP. Thanks for dropping by. --Durano, done!