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Monday, January 21, 2008
Rudy Now Trails McCain in New York

I'm happy to see it, but I confess I'm as surprised as you probably are.

“In a stunning turnaround, John McCain has turned a 33-point deficit with Republican voters in December into a 12-point lead over Rudy Giuliani today,” said Steven Greenberg, Siena New York Poll spokesman. “While America’s mayor still has strong support among New York City Republicans, he is getting beat by McCain in the suburbs and trounced upstate. Republican women give Rudy a small edge, however, Republican men are behind McCain nearly three-to-one.”

Everybody loves a winner. :)

Meanwhile, the latest meme going around is that Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee have effectively been stalking horses for McCain, preventing Mitt-Mentum from taking over the GOP. Perhaps best expressed here:

First, there's Fred, whose lackluster showing in South Carolina was just enough to help McCain win there. As Ryan Sager writes, "Fred Thompson surely has a claim on the vice presidential nod should McCain go all the way, given the votes he took from Mike Huckabee on the Arizona senator's behalf." Then, there's Huckabee in Florida. As Martin and Ruffini point out, he's a great asset to McCain, drawing votes from Romney. Not only that, Huckabee has verged into man-crush territory with McCain and can be counted on to call any attack on him unfortunate and unfair.

Because of course, Fred and Mike legitimately like and admire John McCain, but their supporters do not? Let me say here too that some of the most vocal people who have said they'd rather lose than support the remaining field are Fredheads: Jeff Goldstein, and Professor Bainbridge, for example. The idea that these folks would flock to Romney is wrong, and it's wrong because Romney has pissed them off, just as he's pissed off the supporters of John McCain, and those of Mick Huckabee and (I suspect) those of Rudy Giuliani. That's the reality behind that astonishing poll result I cited the other day that showed 62% of the people would not vote for Mitt Romney. The negative campaigning has worked in some respects for Mitt, but it's really damaged him to the point where he's not a very credible candidate.

But also note Lowry's extremely wishful theory. Fred Thompson should have gotten out of the way of Mike Huckabee in South Carolina because it would have beaten John McCain. And Mike Huckabee should get out of the way of Mitt Romney in Florida because it would beat John McCain. How come these brilliant candidates don't do what is needed to beat John McCain?

Patrick Ruffini did an interesting bit of analysis the other day, pointing out that if the Romney forces had cast their ballots for Huckabee it might have stopped McCain:

Had just 20% of Mitt Romney’s voters voted tactically for Mike Huckabee, McCain would have been denied this needed momentum boost going into Florida and probably the nomination.

Yes, but they didn't know this going in. The polls were all over the map, including the one published the day of the primary that showed Huckabee winning by and Romney getting 9%. If Romney had gotten 20% of his supporters to vote Huckabee, they might have given the Huckster a huge win and Romney would have gotten 7%. It is difficult to spin a result like that positively, although I'm sure Hugh Hewitt would have risen to the occasion.

And speaking of radio talk show hosts, let's hear what Michael Medved has to say about South Carolina's big losers:

The big loser in South Carolina was, in fact, talk radio: a medium that has unmistakably collapsed in terms of impact, influence and credibility because of its hysterical and one-dimensional involvement in the GOP nomination fight.

The point is that you cannot lead the people someplace they don't want to go. You may be proven right in the end, but unless you are amazingly eloquent and charismatic, very few people going to drink the Kool-Aid just because you say so. Rush doesn't succeed because he tells people stuff they don't want to hear; quite the opposite.

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