The punditry never ceases to amaze me. The only view that truly seems to be "fair and balanced" and/or reasoned thought is that of Hugh Hewitt. Hugh gets it in his commentary after the Romney interview! All others are so anxious to write off the most viable of candidates, Mitt Romney, for reasons cited by Hugh.
My view of the Repubulican race -
The following candidates are out of money or have so little that they are unable to compete effectively for the nomination:
John McCain (heavily in debt), Rudy Giuliani (senior staff foregoing pay), Fred Thompson (not enough money to buy paid media), Mike Huckabee (post MI and SC he is flat broke).
The only candidate with financial resources, having raised an impressive $5+ million with a second place finish in New Hampshire - Mitt Romney. An interesting aside, little of the fundraising success was reported in the MSM.
It isn't all about money, but it helps immeasurably.
Message and Experience:
Recent polling in the US indicates that although the war on terror is important, more are concerned about the economy. If John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee cannot manage a campaign's finances to achieve their stated objective, how can they lead or manage the US economy? You cannot lead from a place that you haven't been!
Mitt Romney remains the only candidate to have worked in the private sector, who has successfully led business, philanthropic and public enterprises. If only we had invested with him early on, our $1,000 investment would have been worth $36 million 14 years later. Which candidate of all that are running for president, Democratic or Republican, would you want to invest your money with? Who can you trust to manage and lead in a global economy? Mitt's messaging will illustrate the point. For Michiganders, the answer is obvious. For pundits, they have no clue! Mitt is not stepping aside and has no reason to do so given the depth of resource and message, and delegate count (now and through February 5th).
Prognosticating the Race:
Mitt Romney's message of turning around the MI economy should resonate - Mitt should win*
*If he doesn't win, it will be a result of the Democratic invasion (Hillary is the only one on the ballot - no real primary) into the Republican Primary to influence a lesser candidate, McCain being the likely beneficiary.
If Democrats and Independents truly care about their economy in MI, they will still vote for Mitt. Watch for a positive message from Governor Romney on the economy. An interesting dynamic, will be to compare Governor Huckabee's economic message with Governor Romney, both will be presented before Tuesday, Huckabee today and Mitt tomorrow at the Detroit Economic Forum. A further note on John McCain's economic credentials - he saved money on military spending? Having never been accountable for a budget or enterprise, I am struggling to understand his economic expertise - he seems to struggle with even the most general concepts when queried in debates.
The failure of Mike Huckabee to win Michigan will debilitate him sufficiently, that anything less than 1st place in South Carolina may well end his run. McCain can finish in the top two without any negative consequence, however, he will need to finish strong (top two) in South Carolina to continue.
A knock down battle is underway between Huckabee and Thompson, and McCain. If Thompson doesn't finish strong in South Carolina, he is most likely out because he doesn't have the resources to continue. If Huckabee doesn't win, or finish strongly in South Carolina he is without the resources to continue. If McCain does not win or finish strongly in South Carolina, he is also without the resources to continue. Although a win by McCain in Michigan will diminish his need to win South Carolina. Effectively, it is likely that only one, or maybe two, of McCain, Huckabee and Thompson will survive the South Carolina primary. As for Romney, a top three finish in South Carolina is fine following a strong Michigan finish. Further, Mitt has the resources, supporters and commitment to continue through February 5th, and beyond.
Mitt Romney should win Nevada, which carries more delegates that South Carolina.
Nevada has not been seriously contested by the other candidates and Mitt has been polling very strongly, given his campaigning in Nevada.
It doesn't make much sense to prognosticate Florida at this point given the fluidity of the race and the consequential impact of Michigan and South Carolina. Patience! Even so, it is a firewall for Rudy. If Rudy does not do well in Florida, it will affect him on February 5th.
In summary, without a clear frontrunner and with competing candidates that are constrained in their resources and relegated to must win scenarios, Mitt Romney is well positioned in the race and he has a sustainable strategy. Rudy, albeit with limited resources, is probably the next best positioned to carry through to February 5th. McCain, Thompson and Huckabee are fragile and very dependent on the next couple of primaries, and will struggle to continue without strong finishes. My suspicion is that McCain will do well in South Carolina, leading to an early exit by Thompson and most likely Huckabee. If Huckabee continues it will be limping through the process. I find the pundit's commentary interesting as they give McCain the nod for being in a strong position. McCain is in a very dependent position, to say nothing of the fact that he is surviving on borrowed funds.
In the end it will be Romney vs Rudy or Romney vs McCain.
Ron Paul is in his own element and will continue as long as the cash lasts.