I sit here still awaiting the final tally from California, and what ever it was that was happening in Alaska. Oh wait, Mitt won in Alaska. I keep updating half a dozen web pages trying to get the latest result totals. It’s now 4:13am here in NY, and only about 2/3 of California has reported in. Even so, it’s shaping up to be a huge victory for John McCain.
Pouring over CNN’s county by county totals, it appears as if McCain will win 56 of 59 counties, if I counted right. As California doles out its delegates by congressional districts, it could be a clean sweep of the state by McCain, even in places like San Diego and Orange County. This may well be the knock out blow people were looking for, but didn’t happen prior to this.
I shall echo John McCain’s speach from Arizona here. Mike Huckabee deserves a lot of credit for his victories in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennesee. He certainly surprised me by winning both Alabama and Tennesee, where he lagged in the polls. He gave a good fight in Missouri as well, where he played well to the Bible Belt and rural populations. Romney also deserves some credit as well, even though he didn’t play out as well as he and his campaign had hoped.
While California was and is the big story on the GOP front, there were a few other suprises for me. Romney didn’t win by as big a margin as I thought he would, or should, in Massachusetts. Yes he got 51% of the vote, but McCain still garnered 41%, in a state where Huckabee was a non-factor. I didn’t know that former Governor Bill Weld was backing Romney, at least not until I saw him at Romney HQ in Boston. I like Bill Weld, supported him for Governor and in his failed bid to unseat John Kerry. McCain also didn’t do as well as expected in his home state of Arizona. He still won the state, but it wasn’t a rousing victory, unlike what Huckabee did in Arkansas.
So, it’s still a two man race on the GOP side. Only the race is for the VP slot, and not the actual nomination. Neither Romney nor Huckabee will be able to catch McCain for the nomination. So they’re now playing for who can best help the ticket. “The Deal” is coming folks. Probably not until after March 4th, when Ohio and Texas go to the polls. McCain holds the lead in both states, which should be the final straw in his getting the nomination. It’s all going to come down to who gets the offer first, and who accepts first.
This is not to rule out some other potential VP’s for McCain, but my money is still on Romney getting the offer first. Just like Reagan in 1980, I expect McCain to try and bring Romney onboard the ticket, as Reagan did George HW Bush. Huckabee’s strong showing in the South certainly puts him in the running. But expect Mark Sanford of SC, Sam Brownback of Kansas, and even Rudy Giuliani to get interviewed. Rudy is an extreme long shot though. Look for him to either run for senate against Chuck Schumer, or take on a cabinet post under McCain.
I saw one rumor, more like wishful thinking IMO, that had Romney dropping out today (Wednesday), to run against John Kerry for the Senate. I doubt this highly. If Romney wants to remain a serious player on the national stage, he will need to remain in the running for the VP slot for some time yet, just to show what he can bring to the ticket. As Huckabee won’t play well outside of the Bible Belt South, he may be better served by dropping out now, and throwing his support to McCain. This will guarantee him some sort of influence, if not the VP slot outright.
Only time will tell, but I fully expect the GOP battle to be over by March 5th, after Texas and Ohio vote.