Even with 22 states up for grabs, neither of the Democratic candidates are likely to deliver the knockout punch tonight and claim the nomination. Both candidates are likely to claim gains and promise supporters to carry on the fight.
Republicans, however, are likely to wake up tomorrow with a candidate. And, if that happens, the candidate will be John McCain. If the dems are smart, they'll turn this into a disadvantage for McCain, with each competing for the title of "Candidate Who Believes John Sucks the Most." The latest polling I could find shows McCain losing to either Democrat at this point, but knocking him back a couple two, three points can't hurt any. Better safe than sorry.
The problem with John McCain is that the rightest of the right hates him. I can't figure it out. Given a choice between John McCain and Mitt Romney, they seem to prefer Mittens by a wide margin -- despite the fact that Romney's history is much more liberal than McCain's. Go figure.
"[If McCain gets the nomination,] it's going to destroy the Republican Party, it's going to change it forever, be the end of it," Rush Limbaugh recently told his audience. "A lot of people aren't going to vote." Looking at the turnout in the primaries, a lot of Republicans aren't going to vote anyway. In the eyes of the average conservative, it seems safe to say that the candidates are viewed as different and unique brands of suck.
One thing that's been killing McCain with the right wing talk crowd has been the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. I think it's probably more of a case of having his name forever attached to Russ Feingold's than any real problem with that law. If we go look at the cosponsors of the bill, we find that some heroes of the right signed on -- Fred Thompson, Zell Miller, and Joe Lieberman. Voting for the bill were also Richard Lugar, Pete Domenici, Arlen Specter, and Ted Stevens.
Clearly, there are a lot of stealth liberals on the right.
The fact of the matter is that, right at this moment, John McCain is their best hope to gain the White House. The latest poll I saw, from CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, shows that either Romney or McCain are losers, but that Romney is the bigger loser. In a head to head match-up between McCain and Obama, Obama wins 52% to 44%. Against Clinton, McCain loses 47% to 50% (dems concerned with electability, pay attention to those numbers).
On the other hand, Romney gets his ass handed to him in either race. He loses to Obama 36% to 59% and to Clinton 41% to 56%. If the GOP wants to lose, then Mittens Romney is their man. Kind of makes you wish he were doing better in his quest to buy the White House.
Right now, we're hearing a lot of people say that a vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain. There are two problems with this. One, it's complete BS -- a vote for Huckabee is a vote for Huckabee. There isn't some mechanism that automatically gives peoples' votes to Romney. Two, it doesn't make any damned difference. Gallup shows McCain 45%, Romney 25%, and Huckabee 17% nationally. Do the math. If every single Huckabee voter switches to Romney, it's still not enough. And that's nearly impossible. In order for Romney to be put over the top, he'd also have to get all the Ron Paul voters (4%, which is impossible) or a good share of the undecideds who poll at 9%.
In other words, Mitt Romney is doomed electorally, as much as I might wish otherwise. It was Giuliani that I'd hoped the GOP would nominate, but I'd settle for the ridiculous Mittens Romney. At this point, I'm feeling pretty confident of a dem win, but a landslide would be nice.
And, to go back to my hope for a dem strategy of two against McCain, the right wing talkers have already laid the groundwork. In order to get a talking head job on the right, I think you might take some sort of test to prove you're not a deep thinker. For example, in a blatantly empty threat, Ann Coulter promised to campaign for Clinton if McCain is nominated. According to the report, when Hillary was asked about this, she "responded with a laugh and a cough." As much as she might want to convince everyone she's tremendously influential, Coulter's not. If she were, Duncan Hunter -- who she'd originally endorsed -- would be a front runner now. Ann Coulter's endorsement had absolutely zero impact on this race.
But the right wing punditocracy as a whole just may. The attacks on McCain have been unrelenting. And stupid. The demand for ideological purity has actually put a phony like Mitt Romney above a conservative senator with a long and distinguished career. In a triumph of knee-jerk reactionary fervor over reason, they'd rather have a candidate who can't possibly be elected than one who actually has a slim chance.
Right wing radio nut Melanie Morgan has helpfully collected a few quotes from fellow shallow thinkers in the yack industry. "... I have to say that I fear a McCain candidacy. He would be an exceedingly poor choice as the Republican nominee for president," says Mark Levin.
"He is an expert at filibustering and he is an expert at crooked talk. He talks a smooth game about how, of course, he supports our immigration laws but at the same time John McCain's embrace of his immigration advisor Juan Hernandez is giving conservatives heartburn. Hernandez had served as a Mexican cabinet official under Vicente Fox where he worked diligently to do nothing but undermine sovereignty and our laws," complains Michelle Malkin.
"Republicans who vote for McCain are trying to be cute, like the Democrats were four years ago by voting for the ‘pragmatic’ candidate, Vietnam vet John Kerry," says the aforementioned Coulter. "This will turn out to be precisely as clever a gambit as nominating Kerry was, the brilliance of which was revealed on Election Day 2004."
Once McCain gets the nom, are these people going to pull a 180 and start saying that John McCain's Reagan, Lincoln, and Jesus all rolled into one? If so, who would believe them now?
Another possibility is that they'll become pragmatic and say, "OK folks, he's what we're stuck with now. We need to support him against [insert dem candidate here]." In which case, half-hearted support is as good as no support or even opposition.
The third is Coulter's threat -- actually backing the dem candidate. I don't see this happening and, even if it does, I don't think it'd make a difference either way. Most people would see it as a stunt. But the fact remains that these righties have trained their fans to hate John McCain. If the Democratic candidates start making anti-McCain arguments in favor of their own prospects, those right wing voters will be open to those arguments.
If Limbaugh and Morgan and Coulter wake up after election day to a new Democratic president-elect, they won't have to ask themselves, "How did this happen?"
They'll have those smoking holes in their shoes to remind them.
Technorati tags: politics; elections; 2008; primary; Super Tuesday; Republican; John McCain; Mitt Romney; Mike Huckabee; Ron Paul; Hillary Clinton; Barack Obama; Ann Coulter; Rush Limbaugh; Melanie Morgan; Michelle Malkin; media; Will right wing talk do Democrats a big favor?