A View From The Handbasket

Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Opinions differ on the antiHuck
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:48 AM
Here's Josh Marshall's take on who becomes the anti-Huckabee:

Still not looking good for Mitt tomorrow. But the final swing of the pendulum, picked up by various observers like Marc Ambinder and winger reporters like Bob Novak and others is that Romney's regrouped in the final 48 hours and could pull off a surprise by nudging ahead of McCain.

My gut tells me that McCain probably pulls through. But perhaps not.

But let's plot out this map a little further. Let's say McCain takes first tomorrow with Romney a very close second. It's close to fatal for Romney but not quite. What's more, and what you need to look at to game out the significance is what comes next. The next big fight is in South Carolina. And two new polls out today (Rasmussen and SurveyUSA) show Huckabee in a dominant position in the state. So Huckabee looks likely to take Secessionville with either McCain or Romney coming in second.

At that point you'll have to say that Huckabee, who the GOP establishment is roundly against, is the frontrunner in the campaign. And the others are going to coalesce around an anti-Huckabee candidate. It's not clear to me that McCain is a shoe-in for that role.

If the GOP can prop up Romney as the antiHuck, they'd certainly prefer to do so. If he repeatedly loses to McCain, though, it won't be easy. Tonight is vital for Romney. He'd like you to believe that a "close second" is a moral victory, but the fact is that he's assumed victory in NH for a long time and his strategy changes mightily without it. A solid win by McCain would be fatal IMO. A close win by McCain would give Romney a second chance, but there won't be a third. And a Romney win will probably turn this in to Romney vs. Huckabee, in which case the edge would have to go to Romney.

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