McCain wins South Carolina
Only the Republicans have their primary today. Here's where things stand with 97% of precincts reporting according to cnn.com:
- John McCain 33%: The mainstream media has been very insistent that South Carolina was McCain's Waterloo in the 2000 election, so the fact that McCain won here must be personally satisfying to him. Whether this will propel him to the nomination is another matter. With eight years to prepare for his South Carolina victory, McCain still only managed to just squeeze out a win over party rival Mike Huckabee. This makes me wonder if McCain's support isn't weaker than this victory might lead me to believe. In other words, McCain seems to be doing well now that we're in the relatively tightly scripted early stages of the primary season. Will he still be doing that well when we have the general free-for-all on February 5?
- Mike Huckabee 30%: He's only a few percentage points behind McCain in South Carolina. That's a pretty small margin in a key state, but as the engineers who comment on politics suggest, you don't really want to be in a position where you're hoping that the margins go your way.
- Fred Thompson 16%: Grandpa Simpson woke up tonight and beat Romney! Here is a golden opportunity to test the "Stalking Horse" theory: see if Thompson spends the time between now and the Florida primary attacking Giuliani. If Thompson attacks McCain, then it'll look like Thompson is trying to build his way back to front-runner status. If Thompson attacks Giuliani, it'll look like Thompson is sabtoging McCain's cheif rival in Florida.
- Mitt Romney 15%: He seems to do well when nobody else spends money against him, which is nothing to sneeze at. That's also not a long term strategy for winning anything. Romney did win Michigan, so he might still be saving his resources for a better battleground state than South Carolina.
- Ron Paul 4%: He seems to have caught a case of Romney-itis. He does well when nobody else is spending money against him, but gets clobbered whenever the party titans contest the race. Unfortunately, this might be a symptom of a more severe condition called loser-itis.
- Rudy Giuliani 2%: February 5 should be his big day, but he's expected to be strong in Florida.
- Duncan Hunter 0%: Hunter has abandoned the Republican primary contest after the results from Nevada and South Carolina.