News from the Votemaster
John Edwards has dropped out of the race. More tomorrow.
John McCain won the Florida Republican primary. Here are the results:John McCain: 36.0%
Mitt Romney: 31.1%
Rudy Giuliani: 14.6%
Mike Huckabee: 13.5%
Ron Paul: 3.2%
The polls were pretty good this time. Since the Florida primary was winner-take-all, McCain picks up the 57 delegates that the RNC didn't remove as a punishment for moving the primary before Feb. 5. He now goes into Superduper Tuesday next week as the front runner, but it is by no means over. Mitt Romney is still the favorite of a large faction of the party and since he is paying the bill himself, he could pump a large amount of money into this final week. As Yogi Berra once famously said: "It ain't over til it's over."
McCain ran equally well with men and women, but beat Romney badly (54% to 14%) among Latinos and Cubans (54% to 9%). He ran slightly better than Romney among low-income (< $50,000) voters and also among high-income voters (> $200,000) and slightly worse with middle-income voters. He also scored well on "Says what he believes," "Has the best chance to win in November," and Will cut the budget deficit." In general, moderates and the less religious preferred McCain and conservatives and the more religious picked Romney, as expected. A complete demographic breakdown is given by the NY Times.
What happened to Rudy Giuliani? He spent all his time and money campaigning in one state--Florida--and came in a distant third. He's finished. He'll drop out soon, probably today. What went wrong? The biggest mistake he made was entering the race in the first place. Only someone with an ego the size of the Empire State Building could think that a mayor of New York (which to much of the Republican base is right up there with Sodom and Gomorrah) and who supports abortion, gay rights, and illegal immigrants would think he had a chance in the Republican primary. Add to this his idea of family values (three wives, numerous girlfriends, and two adult children who don't talk to him) and you don't have the ideal Republican candidate. He was leading in the polls most of 2007, but what he didn't realize was that he was merely a placeholder for "None of the above." All the other contenders had major flaws and nobody looked much beyond his (self-proclaimed) hero image. When the race started in earnest, he was left in the dust. Strategically, he made one mistake. While skipping Iowa as a good idea (he never had a prayer there, and in Iowa, prayers are crucial), he didn't go all out in New Hampshire, an eccentric, libertarian state close to home. If he had gone all out for New Hampshire and won, he would have picked up much-needed momentum. As is, Rudy can go back to making millions advising foreign governments on security matters and collecting wives.
Mike Huckabee came in fourth, but his race is not yet run. While it seems unlikely that he could get the nomination, he could yet win a number of southern and border states next week. If he does especially well, Romney or McCain will probably pick him as Veep in order to unify the party after a divisive primary. If he does badly next week, he'll have to go look for a job. Or maybe write another book.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won a nonprimary and got 0 delegates. The score was:Hillary Clinton: 49.7%
Barack Obama: 33.0%
John Edwards: 14.4%
The DNC stripped Florida of all its delegates and none of the candidates campaigned there, so it means little, except that it might lead to a huge credentials fight at the convention, as discussed here Jan. 24.
At this point, the Democrats have to think seriously about who would be the strongest candidate against McCain. With Obama as nominee, the race would be about youth vs. age (McCain would be the oldest president in history). With Clinton, the race would be a battle for the hearts of moderate Republican women, torn between wanting a woman President and party loyalty. A week from now we will know more.
Or maybe not. While most of the Republican primaries and caucuses are winner-take-all, the Democratic ones are all proportional representation. It could easily happen that Clinton an Obama split evenly next week and continue battling each other and spewing venom for the next 7 months. This could drive their respective negatives through the roof. It is even possible that at an evenly divided convention with two battered candidates, a dark horse like John Edwards (or even Al Gore) could emerge as the nominee. Stranger things have happened.
Come back tomorrow for a rundown of all the races next week.
Only one poll today. In connecticut, in Hillary Clinton's back yard, Obama has pulled even with her, 40% to 40%. Whether this is a fluke or signs of Obama rising should be known as more polls come in this week.
CNN is keeping track of the delegates for the Democrats and for the Republicans. Note that other sources may differ because CNN is trying to count the PLEOs (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) and other unpledged delegates. When different reporters call a PLEO and hear "Well, I like Hillary, but Barack has his charms too" they may score it differently. Here is CNN's count:
-- The Votemaster