Friday, January 04, 2008

what I think it all means

Quite a night in Iowa, eh?

First and foremost, we now know one thing: I have absolutely no future in soothsaying.

But, really, how does tonight effect the rest of the race--or at least my predictions for the rest of the race, as written about here in my last post.

Significantly, I tell you. Significantly.

Here's why: Unlike a few days ago, tonight I doubt Romney will win New Hampshire. I based my predictions in NH on two things: that Romney's numbers there had hit the skids because of the problems he was having in Iowa; and that he was going to actually win Iowa.

You see, back when he was the leader in Iowa, he was comfortably on top in NH. Call it momentum, call it electability, call it whatever you want, but the truth is that about two months ago he looked like a lock in both of these early contests.

Now I don't know which one turned south for him first, but in my little brain the two states are related for him and him alone--the one major candidate in the GOP that has tried to play in both states.

I felt that when Romney pulled off the comeback in Iowa, that whatever "feeling" it was that surrounded his candidacy in New Hampshire would return--and that said "feeling" would lead him back to victory over McCain. Just like it had in Iowa with a different main competitor.

Well, now we know how that comeback fared in Iowa. Almost a 10-point loss. Ouch.

So now I think McCain wins New Hampshire. I'll guess that it will be a little closer of a vote than Iowa turned out to be, but that matters little. A second place finish in NH pretty much means that Romney won't win the nomination.

What to make of Fred now? It looks like he'll get the third place finish in Iowa that most pundits said he needed to keep going.

So he'll be alive tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don't know what happens after that. I figured that in the wake of a loss in Iowa, Huck would be vulnerable in South Carolina, which Fred really needs to win. Now that Huckabee at least held serve in Iowa--maybe even did better than that--I don't know how vulnerable he is in South Carolina. Most importantly, I'm not sure Fred has the war chest to expose Huck as the non-conservative that he is--which IS his biggest vulnerability in the South. Romney has the war chest to do that. . .but may decide to pass up on playing such a game in South Carolina in favor of another place where he is more competitive. Now I don't rule out that Huckabee does something to hurt his own campaign in the next two weeks--but I think the lights will be a little less blaring between now and then, and that provides much-needed cover to this particular candidate. If Huck is able to keep his lead--or just remain viable enough to keep Fred from winning--in South Carolina, I fear Fred may be toast.

Here's to hoping that some conservative money works its way into South Carolina so that Huckabee's record of governorship is well-known by the time they have their vote in 16 days!


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