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Sunday, February 10, 2008


the delegate game: Romney and Huck

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, February 10, 2008 permalink View blog reactions
After Huckabee's rout of McCain yesterday, the GOP delegate totals are:

(1,191 needed to win)
McCain: 714
Romney: 286
Huckabee: 217

Clearly, the social-conservative base is rebelling against the coronation of McCain as the nominee. Josh Trevino argues that these results are more indicative of the general election outcome than the primary:

what we see this evening is only partly a preview of a Huckabee surge from conservatives. That surge is yet to fully materialize; it has long odds against it due to the establishment’s scorched-earth campaign against Huckabee of one month past; and even if it comes to pass, it is unlikely to deny McCain the nomination. This evening’s results are a preview of something else: the root of a McCain defeat in November.

In other words, for Huckabee to prevail over McCain, he'd still have to succeed in improbable math. However, others speculate what would happen if Romney threw his support to Huck instead:

If Romney were to join forces with Huckabee, that would Huckabee within striking distance of McCain. And he proved today in Washington that he can win states without heavy evangelical support.

I think this is unlikely because it would spell doom for Romney's longer-term ambitions. Romney's speech to CPAC was a martyr's tirade, sacrificing himself for the good of the Party (ie, the Nation) to forestall the barbarian advance. Why would he throw that away and propel Huckabee to the fore, a candidate who was reviled so thoroughly by the party elites that he made John McCain palatable as the conservative nominee?

The reverse scenario, however, bears consideration. Consider that Romney "suspended" his campaign. That permits Romney to lay low and conserve resources, while Huckabee consolidates the social conservative/anyone-but-McCain vote (a evolving trend that will be more clear over the next two Tuesdays). What if Romney were to step in around March and April, say he is resuming his campaign, and offers Veep to Huckabee? A joint ticket would probably have far better turnout in the general than McCain could inspire, and Romney's earlier status as the establishment's pick would shield him from blowback for embracing the Arkansas governor. The appeal of a dual executive ticket running against a field of Senators would also be pretty stark a contrast, especially since both men are telegenic and charming.

If Huckabee proves himself capable of drawing the votes throughout February and stays close in McCain's rearview, then such a scenario might well play out in March or April.

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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.