Romney and Clinton win Nevada
Here are the results with 90% of Democratic precincts and 87% of Republican precincts reporting, as reported by cnn.com:
- Mitt Romney 53%: Today's big Republican battle is in South Carolina, not Nevada, so don't read too much into this number. On the other hand, as we'll see below, it's always nice to build a reputation for winning.
- Ron Paul 13%: That Ron Paul finished in second place is probably going to be trumpeted all across the libertarian blogosphere in the coming days. In part, Ron Paul is running an excellent insurgent campaign buoyed by a suprisingly large base of irrationally exuberant supporters. In part, it's the weakness of some of the other conservative candidates which is giving Ron Paul an opening.
It seems to me that Fred Thompson's state's rights/federalism emphasis would be the obvious second choice for Paul's libertarian base, so it would make sense for Thompson to put some energy into driving Paul out of the race. If Thompson is doing this, he's really failing miserably, because the conservative media is more interested in Thompson attacking Mike Huckabee than anything else. Of course, one could flip the argument around nicely and observe that the next logical step is for Paul to focus on Thompson and drive him out of the race. If Paul could pick up Thompson's solid 4% of the base and add it to his roughly 10% of the base, that could set him up for big things in the future.
- John McCain 13%: The mainstream media has been pretty insistant that South Carolina is the make-or-break state for McCain, so this weak showing here probably doesn't mean much.
- Mike Huckabee 8%: Again, this may be a case of Huckabee placing his eggs in other baskets. If there is a real problem from this result, it's that it makes Huckabee look like a natural loser to McCain. That is to say that it makes it look like that Republicans naturally gravitate towards McCain over Huckabee unless Huckabee spends money to sway them back to himself. I'd bet that the Huckabee campaign wouldn't be too happy about that.
- Fred Thompson 7%: The conservative media has been focused on Grandpa Simpson catching fire in South Carolina, so this result doesn't mean much in absolute terms. In relative terms, this is something of a win for Thompson. Sure, he got beat by the three front runners and Ron Paul, but he did also beat his 1% showing in New Hampshire and squashed Duncan Hunter's chance of breaking out of last place.
- Rudy Giuliani 4%: It goes without saying that Giuliani just isn't going to be a factor in these campaigns until February 5. As I mentioned before, expect to see the mainstream media pushing Giuliani in the week or so before then.
- Duncan Hunter 2%: As much as I'd like to see Hunter acknowledge reality and drop out of the contest, with only 2% of the vote and probably very little money entering his campaign, Hunter is not really hurting anyone by staying in.
- Hillary Clinton 51%: You can see the importance of building a reputation for winning based on the campaign strategy of the Clinton campaign. They spend every hour of every day beating down on Barack Obama's reputation. Barack Obama literally cannot open his mouth without the Clinton trying to shove words into it. Whenever he says something on the campaign trail, the Clintons immediately try to throw it back at him. When Barack Obama looks like he is going to win a primary, the Clintons are the first ones to cry "Voter Fraud! Voter Fraud!".
In short, the Clintons are waging total war against Obama, and these slight victories in minor states are going to start giving the impression that Obama is waging less than total war in return. That perception might cost Obama the election.
- Barack Obama 45%: A few days ago, I thought that he might have finally checkmated Hillary Clinton to build a win in the Nevada primary. I should have known better. The Clintons are the most ruthless campaigners, as well as the worst losers, in the history of American politics. So if Barack Obama thinks he has anything "in the bag", he might want to think again.
- John Edwards 4%: I was impressed by his 17% in New Hampshire, but disappointed by his 4% here. This might be another case of a candidate saving his resources for a key state later in the contest. He might want to find a way to win soon or it might appear that the Edwards campaign will be the latest victim of World War Hillary.
- Dennis Kucinich 0%: On the bright side, Kucinich can say that he actually ran for president and didn't get exactly zero support. There are plenty of fourth-party candidates -- the candidates of the various people's, worker's, and socialist minor parties come to mind -- that can't even dream of touching the success story that is Kucininch.