Kathryn, re The Union Leader going gangbusters for McCain, I don’t think they can deliver the state to him, but they can certainly help kill off putative rivals. Just to get all Lowryesque and horseracey, since the Huckaboom took off, the trick has been to be the Anyone-But-Huck candidate. If Mitt gets a good-enough second in Iowa and holds his lead in New Hampshire, he’ll be the ABH.
But there’s also a significant market for an Anyone-But-Huck-Or-Mitt candidate. Until his recent woes, Rudy could at least claim frontrunner status in that category. But, if Fred pushes Rudy into fourth place in Iowa and the McCain surge (which is certainly detectable) in NH puts Mister Maverick into second place in the Granite State (with Huck third), McCain is going to be the ABHOM, and Giuliani is going to be like Joe Lieberman on primary night in 2004, trying to rouse the faithful by claiming his amazing Joementum had put him in a virtual three-way tie for third place (to be boringly factual about it, he wound up placing fifth).
Right now, the biggest loser of these last few weeks looks like the Giuliani “nationalized primary” strategy. He needs warm bodies on January nights in increasingly chilly states. And speaking personally, as National Review’s New Hampshire Bureau Chief, I rejoice that reports of the demise of the primary’s relevance have once again proved somewhat premature.