If there’s one thing we’ve learned in this presidential season so far, it’s that nothing is a sure thing. John McCain says he “assumes” he’ll get the nomination and that he’ll have it wrapped up by Super Tuesday.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, led McCain 40 percent to 32 percent in California, where the margin of error was 3.3 percentage points. A win in California, the most populous state, could help puncture McCain’s growing momentum in the Republican nomination fight.
McCain won the last two contests, in South Carolina and Florida, to seize the front-runner’s slot in a hard-fought Republican race despite qualms among some conservatives about his past views on taxes, immigration and campaign finance.
“Romney is widening his lead in California and has a really big advantage with conservatives,” Zogby said. “Romney winning California would give some Republicans pause when they look at McCain as the potential nominee.”
Romney said he would cut short a scheduled trip to Georgia and fly back to California on Monday for a last-minute campaign visit.
“People there are taking a real close look at the race and it looks like I’ve got a good shot there,” Romney told reporters.
Look for McCain and Huck to increase their class warfare attacks and conspiracy-mongering, while continuing to coo to each other about their civility.
Paul Mirengoff at Power Line explains why he’ll vote for Romney:
The McCain I saw in the California debate last week didn’t look particularly electable. With the economy emerging as the overwhelmingly central issue in the campaign, with McCain’s nasty streak increasingly on display, and with his reputation for straight-talk diminishing before our eyes, I’m not prepared to base a vote for the Senator on electability.
The decision thus comes down to policy and effectiveness. I give Romney the edge on both counts.
Rick Santorum says that when he was in the Senate, there were three parties — the Democratic party, the Republican party, and the McCain party. This is an exaggeration, but it contains some truth. Think of McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, “McCain-Byrd” (the gang of 14 deal), and now McCain-Lieberman. On some of the most important issues of our time — political speech, immigration, judicial nominations, taxation, and now climate change — McCain has been more comfortable with liberal or centrist positions than with conservative Republican ones. Let’s not deceive ourselves into believing that this will change if McCain gains the highest office in the land. It’s far more likely that we’ll actually have a McCain party instead of just a McCain faction.
By the same token, we should not believe that, as president, Romney would be the same across-the-board conservative he’s running as. But nothing in Romney’s record as governor (as opposed to his record as a candidate for office in liberal Massachusetts) suggests that he won’t govern as a reasonably reliable conservative. At a minimum, Romney will understand that there can be no “Romney party” — any attempt by him to forge a “third way” by allying with the Democrats ultimately would leave him hopelessly isolated. McCain may be willing to accept that risk, but Romney surely isn’t.
Meanwhile, McCain’s champions continue their efforts to deride and marginalize opponents. First, they were deranged and Kossack-like. Now, they need to “grow up” (Barnes invoking Barry Goldwater) and get over their “dyspepsia” (Kristol in the NYT).
Translation: Don’t worry, be happy, shut up.
The GOP race in Georgia is tightening up…
The latest InsiderAdvantage / Majority Opinion Research poll shows the Republican presidential race tightening in Georgia while Barack Obama maintains a strong lead over Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. The polling was conducted Saturday.
(Sample size: 388; margin of error: plus or minus 5 percentage points. Weighted for age, race, gender and political affiliation.)
The GOP race in Missouri is a toss-up:
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows John McCain narrowly on top at 32% followed by Mike Huckabee at 29% and Mitt Romney at 28%.
Jim Hoft sends video of Romney and Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt campaigning last night:
Hugh Hewitt looks at the delegate count:
Winner-take-all states that lean McCain: New York (101), Missouri (58), Arizona (53), New Jersey (52) Connecticut (30), and Delaware (18).
Winner-take-all states that lean Romney: Utah (36) and Montana (25).
Winner-take-all states that lean Huckabee: Arkansas (34).
States dividing delegates Tuesday on other-than-a-winner-take-all basis:
West Virginia: 30
North Dakota: 26
Possible scenario: If Romney takes Utah (36) and Montana (25) and wins in California (largest Super Tuesday state), Georgia (third-largest Super Tuesday state), Missouri (fifth-largest), Massachusetts, and a smattering of small states (e.g., Tennessee, Montana, Alabama), he could still be in contention.
It ain’t over.