Monday, February 11, 2008

Who's Afraid of Mike Huckabee?

Bizarrely, the Washington state Republican party has refused to tally all of the votes in the caucus it held Saturday. With only 87% of the vote counted and John McCain leading Mike Huckabee by less than two percentage points, state party officials simply declared the count over and McCain the winner. Unsurprisingly, Huckabee will sic his lawyers on the Washington Repugs.

It's not just my inner six year old, still obsessed with fairness on the playground, who wonders what the heck is up with this. I mean, Huckabee frightens me, but I'm starting to think he scares the Republican establishment a whole lot more.

Mathematically, it's still possible for Huckabee to win the nomination. A total of 1191 delegates are needed to win. CNN's delegate scorecard (which omits the Louisiana and Washington results) says McCain has 723, Romney 286, Huckabee 217, and Ron Paul 16.

The odds are stacked tremendously against Huckabee. I'm not seriously suggesting he'll sweep all the remaining states. But he won two out of the three contests over the weekend (and maybe three, though we'll likely never know). If he keeps this up, he'll expose his party's deep divisions for all to see.

Media reports have oddly tended to portray Mitt Romney's withdrawal from the campaign as removing the last potential roadblock to McCain's nomination. Consider this AP report from last week:
Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign on Thursday, effectively sealing the Republican presidential nomination for John McCain.
This overlooks the niggling little detail that McCain benefited hugely from Mittens and Huckadoodle splitting the conservative vote between them. And while Huckabee was widely portrayed as the spoiler, couldn't you just as easily view it the other way around?


Rence said...

I really think his only chance is to stop McCain from amassing the 1,191 delegates and the nomination actually going to brokered convention, where he could conceivably win.

Huckabee can't catch up with McCain without trouncing him in nearly all of the upcoming primaries, but what he can do is split enough of the vote that McCain can't make up the 400ish delegates he needs to secure the nomination.

I have to admit that I think I had Huckabee all wrong, and that he probably won't be on a VP short list. Granted, he could definitely come back in the future, but this year is probably all or nothing for him.

I would love nothing more than for him to take the Republicans to convention. If these divisions within the GOP are as large as they seem, it could happen and it could make for some serious problems for them come fall.

Mollyfa said...

How odd? I hadn't heard any of this. Why would they stop counting?

Another thing to consider since Romney is out, is where do his delegates go? Will they turn over to Huckabee?

Rence said...

Romney technically suspended his campaign and he retains all of his delegates. If something were to happen barring McCain from getting the nomination, he could re-launch his bid for the presidency with his 270-odd delegates. If he had officially dropped out, he would have just lost his delegates to no one's gain.

Sungold said...

Thanks for the clarification, Rence. As I told you earlier today, I agree that Huckabee will likely pursue exactly the strategy you described.

Thanks for coming by Molly. It *is* odd ... I assume the WA GOP may know the final count internally, by now. Their pony in this race would be to ensure that Huckabee can't create too much chaos. He scares them because he's still seen as unacceptable to the Republican elite (too much of a populist)and anathema to many moderate Republicans (too much of a theocrat).