Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Romney wins Michigan! What Now?

They say it is wide open in the Republican race. With a decisive and foretelling win in Michigan (Romney 39%, McCain 30%, Huckabee 16%, Paul 6%, Thompson 4% and Giuliani 3%), Mitt is off to South Carolina, Nevada and Florida. Patrick Ruffini has a great summary of Michigan HERE, and what it means for John McCain. Rassmussen and Fox polling currently show McCain with the advantage in South Carolina (pre-Michigan), but the landscape has changed. Just watch, Mitt could finish very strongly in South Carolina in spite of the punditry! Most recently Mitt has been leading in the Nevada caucus, and Florida has a margin of error race between Giuliani, Romney, McCain and Huckabee for first. We press forward and on to the nomination!

South Carolina will be a defining moment for each of McCain, Huckabee and Thompson, with a must-win for each. Whether it is McCain, Huckabee or Thompson, whoever wins South Carolina will move forward in this strategic race! Realistically, there is no room after 1st for Huckabee or Thompson. 2nd and 3rd hold little value for them and will likely result in a withdrawal from the race, either before or after Florida. Huckabee and Thompson must win to evidence their viability among the Southern States. The absence of a win, and with little financial depth, they will be fatally wounded. McCain, most likely, could continue with a strong 2nd in South Carolina, but anything short of 1st or 2nd would be fatal to his campaign. If Huckabee or Thompson were to win in South Carolina, they would breathe new life into their campaigns, but it will be a struggle for them on February 5th, given the breadth of the race and diminished resources available to them. Hence, South Carolina will determine who among McCain, Huckabee and Thompson will remain in the race.

Florida remains Rudy's firewall, and absent a strong win, he will struggle through February 5th. A flaw in Rudy's February 5th execution, has been his hoped for, but not achieved, strong finishes (2nd or 3rd) in the early states.

Mitt Romney remains in the strongest position of all Republican candidates to secure the nomination. With wins in Wyoming and Michigan, 2nds in Iowa and New Hampshire, and with the most delegates, Republican votes and depth of financial resources, Mitt has established a strong lead among the field of candidates. Rudy must win in Florida to validate his strategy. He is pouring all of his resources into Florida, and absent a win, he will only have fumes to carry him into February 5th. The winner of South Carolina among Huckabee, McCain and Thompson, will remain in the field. Thankfully, after South Carolina, the field will be narrowed down to 3.

However, don't dismiss Mitt in South Carolina, as he still polls statistically tied for 2nd. He may well pull out South Carolina and Florida victories with a strong campaign effort and a Michigan bounce. If he does, the landscape changes dramatically. If Mitt is 1st or 2nd in South Carolina and Florida, he will be tough to beat for the nomination. I have always held a firm belief that Mitt will be the nominee, and the strategic victories to date support that position.

John McCain and Rudy Giuliani lack the support of the Republican base, and Huckabee has never had it. Huckabee lacks the depth and substance to lead, and having appealed only to the evangelical community, cannot nor will not succeed in his ambitions. Thompson has yet to garner the needed traction to win. Notwithstanding the lack of 1st place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt's strategy to compete in all states, and to do well in the early states, is proving to be the right strategy. We talked about this strategy 2 years ago and amid the fluidity and uncertainty of politics, Mitt has executed his strategy quite well to date. And so it truly begins...



Unpledged RNC-0


Wyoming01/0514 *

New Hampshire01/0812 *

Michigan01/1530 *

1,191 Delegates Needed to Win the Nomination
According to Real Clear Politics


Brent said...

Hi Dave.

The figures here for Michigan gave Mitt 23 delegates rather than the 12 shown on your chart. I know, you're just checking to see if we're wide awake out here in California.

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David said...

Hey Brent - no doubt you are awake, the delegate counts are all over the lot, and I have relied on the accuracy of Real Clear Politics. Time will tell.