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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Huck’s Unluck

John McCain’s narrow win in SC over Mike Huckabee probably dooms the Arkansan and creates an entirely new dynamic in the January 29 FL primary. As you will hear over and over in the next few days, SC was a kind of terrain that was as close to ideal for Huckabee as he could have wanted, a southern state with a heavily evangelical Republican voting base.
But in the end, Huck’s luck wasn’t that good. Fred Thompson’s decision to throw everything into SC, and to go negative on Huckabee, and Romney’s decision to all but bail in the state, almost certainly produced the McCain win. Thompson ran well in Huckabee Country, while Romney ran well in McCain Country. Had Thompson pulled out, and had Romney really competed, it’s pretty clear Huckabee would have had a major advantage.
Now we get to find out if Rudy Giuliani’s decision to concede every state prior to Florida was a fatal mistake. Today Rudy won 4% of the vote in NV and 2% in SC; he was running first in some SC polls less than two months ago.
But more and more, it’s looking like a McCain-Romney contest for the nomination. And despite McCain’s reinforced front-runner status after SC, Romney may have the money and the positioning to overcome him.

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