A state of the race assessment from “Middle Cheese,” one of my old sources from 2004, now affiliated with the Romney campaign.
So McCain scores the win he needed, effectively ending Huckabee’s viability and narrowing the race to a two man contest between him and Romney. Rudy’s demise is a mere formality.
Florida is now in the spotlight and will have the job of disposing of Rudy and giving either McCain or Romney a leg up for Super Tuesday. When looking at the big prizes on Feb. 5, one must still assume that Rudy wins NY. But other then that it’s wide open (yes, even New Jersey) and the big prizes will be contested between McCain and Romney, largely decided by whether the polls are closed to independent voters or not.
What’s the state to watch on Super Tuesday? Why the biggest prize of course. California. California is setting up well for Romney. While McCain leads in polls by the margin or error, the numbers in this closed primary state also show he has the most solid base in California of voters that won’t switch to another candidate. Also, McCain’s immigration profile is against the current of California GOP voters and Romney’s economic message is sure to be persuasive in a state with home foreclosures galore, a front page state budget crisis and a climbing unemployment rate.
Assuming FL confirms the two man Romney vs. McCain race, keep your eye on California. It will either put Mitt over the top or provide a Super Tuesday split decision that will push this race to Texas, Ohio and Mississippi in March. Or, look at it this way, if Mitt can’t win in California, then he probably hasn’t won anywhere else on Super Tuesday except his home of Massachusetts.
I don’t have reason to think that California isn’t setting up well for Romney… I just know that calculating how a candidate is doing in California has to be supremely complicated, because you need to measure on a congressional-district-by-congressional-district basis.