Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nevada Caucuses and South Carolina Primary

I was very happy with yesterday's primary and caucus results in general. Let's go through it race by race and party by party.
The Democrats, Nevada Caucus
This was a mixed bag and it's tough to say how it will go. While Obama got more delegates, the headlines will typically read that Hillary won the state. She did, but it's more nuanced than that. I don't know what will happen with this race still. I think that Obama and Hillary will continue to split races, especially once John Edwards leaves because it will come down to two camps of people: those who like Hillary and those who don't. Because of that and because of the lack of momentum either candidate has got, it might come down to super delegates to see who will win the race.
The Republicans, Nevada Caucus
Romney beat the pants off of everybody else in this contest and if he didn't, he'd be in deep trouble. The combination of everyone else writing this off for South Carolina and the natural constituency he has in Nevada mean that this was expected, just like Wyoming. He has the most delegates and that's important, but with the results of the South Carolina primary, his job just got harder because he may not be able to drag things out until the convention.
The Republicans, South Carolina PrimaryThis was great! McCain beat Huckabee in South Carolina, a state that I would consider the core of Huckabee's support. If he can't win here, he can't win elsewhere. The caveat is that Fred Thompson likely took a lot of Huckabee's support. If Thompson drops out, his voters could easily go to Huckabee, at least in the South. If that happens, we get our toss-up heading into convention again.
Sorro's Candidate Odds
Mitt Romney - 5:1. I still have him here because while he's shown he's competitive in the West and Rust Belt, he hasn't proven anything else. He had a 4th place finish in South Carolina despite a lot of advertising and I think a lot of that is because of religion. Even without the religion issue, he has good nights campaigning and bad nights and it seems like he's had the plasticky, bad nights a lot more than his good ones.
John McCain - 2:1. McCain's moved up a bit because I think South Carolina could become a tipping point for him. He may not win a lot of Romney states, but I think he could pick up Florida and New York if Giuliani slips just a bit. If those states fall to him, the South could as well. If that happens, he's got it in the bag, even if Romney continues on. Even though McCain has some big liabilities (the most notable is his opinion on immigration), he's clearly the candidate who would do the best against a Democratic candidate, beating Hillary Clinton in hypothetical contests and doing very well with independents and moderates in the primaries. I think that at the end of the day Republicans want to stay in charge and McCain gives them the best chance of doing that.
Mike Huckabee - 15:1. Huckabee still has a chance, no question about it. Things are unsettled enough that a misstep by another candidate could bring him back to the fore. His positions on things like religion, while playing to his base (the very religious), unnerve everyone else and ultimately hurt him. I consider myself quite religious but i bristle at the thought of Huckabee and his preacher's mind being in charge of the country. He is the one legitimate nominee who would get me to strongly consider voting for a Democrat
Ron Paul - 100,000:1. I am surprised that Paul blew it in South Carolina. He consistently got 10% of the vote in other contests, but his tanking in South Carolina turned his long shot candidacy into a very long shot candidacy. He was never going to win anyway, this just means it's far less likely.
Rudy Giuliani - 1,500:1. His odds have gone down because of his even worse than expected showing in South Carolina. He's banking everything on Florida, and a win there could rejuvinate his campaign, but I'm not seeing that happen one way or another. The unsettled field still plays to his advantage, but by pinning all his hopes on Florida he's putting himself at the mercy of a group who is not his natural constituency. He used to be one of the serious candidates and it's surprising how far he fell from where he used to be.
Fred Thompson - 25,000:1. He needed to win South Carolina to have a serious chance here, but he didn't. He came in a respectable third place, but that doesn't win a candidacy. I'd love to see Thompson stick around longer because he and Huckabee go after the same voters and the more he can pull away from Huckabee the better it is. If I was Thompson, I'd be looking for a Veep slot right now. McCain/Thompson could be a compelling ticket with some great synergies. McCain's strength among moderates and Thompson's among conservatives combined with their different geographical strengths (the West v. the South) could keep the Republicans in charge for another four years.
Here's the latest GOP Primary projections as I see them:

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