Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why McCain won

From Politico:

John McCain won one of the most socially conservative electorates in the country, South Carolina Republicans, by effectively winning everyone but social conservatives.

Still, McCain could not have won the South’s first presidential contest without making significant inroads with conservative Christians, a group he stood at odds with eight years ago.

Exit polling conducted by a consortium of news organizations found that in measure after measure, Mike Huckabee won social conservatives by roughly a 10-point margin: weekly church attendees, those who think abortion should be illegal and those who believe religious beliefs matter in a candidate a “great deal” or “somewhat.” But for the former Baptist preacher that margin proved too small to win Saturday’s primary.

McCain’s victory was built upon one bloc after another. For the 46 percent of voters who based their ballot on personal qualities, McCain won them by 17 points over Huckabee. In comparison, though 52 percent of voters said issues mattered most, Huckabee only won them by eight points.

McCain narrowly won those who believed the economy mattered most (four in 10 voters) as well as those who said terrorism (14 percent of voters). Huckabee edged him out among those who said the same for illegal immigration, a quarter of voters. But McCain won those who said Iraq mattered most, 16 percent of voters, by an unambiguous margin — 27 points.

McCain’s wide, double-digit leads on questions on Iraq or with those who felt experience was the most important quality in a candidate were crucial to his victory.

No less critical was that, while McCain split self-identified Republicans with Huckabee, he won independents by 17 points over the former Arkansas governor.

Independents were a fifth of voters and, like in New Hampshire, they proved to be a crucial bloc behind McCain’s victory. Also, McCain won those 65 and older as well as moderates by a 2-to-1 margin. Both groups were about a fifth of the vote.

So if South Carolina had not been one of those states where independents and Democrats could choose to vote in the Republican primary McCain would not have won. This is not good news for the crazy Senator from Arizona.

In most of the upcoming states the only people who will be allowed to vote in the Republican primary will be actual Republicans. Without the liberal voters who are his true base McCain will be hard pressed to defeat someone who is perceived to be a conservative (like Romney or Giuliani).

Huckabee also has problems ahead in that his base of support is Evangelical "values voters" and he does not even win a majority of them in most states. He has failed to break out of that narrow demographic (due to the fact that he is a liberal on all but a few issues) and he lacks both the money and the organization to compete with much better known and funded opponents.

An additional problem that both McCain and Huckabee will face is the determined opposition of media conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and the conservative blogosphere. A great many conservatives with soapboxes large and small are not going to rest until every Republican knows the truth about both of these detestable RINOs.

The Hillbilly White Trash prediction of upcoming political events is that starting in Florida, which Giuliani will win, and on into Super Tuesday it will become apparent that the real race on the Republican side will be between Romney and Giuliani.

Now if Fred will just do the right thing and endorse Romney.