Richelieu: 2008: The Year of the Upset?
9:58 AM, Nov 29, 2007 • By RICHELIEU
I see my good friend, the distinguished neo-Jacobin Monsieur Kristol, has broken into his ample wine supply again and insulted the monarchy. A weekend chained to the cheap seats at an Alabama tractor pull would seem fitting punishment for my rabble loving friend's imprudence, but alas, we aristocrats no longer rule. Curse us then, and enjoy your bowling alleys. On the larger point, however, I agree more than disagree with his argument that the race is wider than a simple 2-way. It indeed is possible that any of the five major candidates can win, I just don't believe they all have the same chance.
Washington conventional wisdom has long pegged Huckabee as the Iowa upsetter to look out for. Now the question is, could the Arkansan actually be nominated? I think he could, and his chance now is better than Thompson's and rivals McCain's, being somewhere between a long- and medium-shot.
Let me sketch one potential scenario: Huckabee wins the Iowa caucus (which is what would happen if the election were today). Romney is second. Rudy is third and Thompson fourth. Huckabee surges into New Hampshire and his communications skills help him ride the wave perfectly. But Romney has some success in framing the New Hampshire race as a choice between a regular Republican from the Northeast and a southern Christian conservative. He tickles New Hampshire's secret "screw Iowa" appetite and with McCain retaining some strength in New Hampshire Giuliani finds it hard to surge. The results are muddy. Huckabee narrowly wins New Hampshire by fewer than 900 votes over Romney. McCain is third, closely followed by Giuliani. Thompson is fifth and drops out.
The next week Romney narrowly beats Huckabee, now fueled by enough Internet money to run television, in Michigan. McCain runs a distant third. The media labels Huckabee's close second place finish a "win" in a state where he has no organization. Huckabee beats the wounded Romney four days later in South Carolina. McCain drops out after a second disappointing third place finish, narrowly ahead of Giuliani, whose campaign announces they are making a final make or break stand in Florida, as they have always claimed in their brilliant Master Plan. Seeing Romney as his main opponent in Florida for the regular Republican vote, Giuliani uses his final cash on hand to launch a very tough television attack on Romney, featuring former Massachusetts governor and Rudy supporter Paul "DeNiro" Cellucci. McCain endorses Rudy. Romney interjects another $5 million in personal funds into his campaign and launches a blistering TV counterattack on Rudy. Ten days later, Huckabee wins the Florida primary, dominating north Florida and showing surprising strength in Pinellas, Orange, and Broward counties. Romney finishes second. Rudy, now lagging in every February 5 state poll except New York, drops out, refusing to endorse either remaining GOP candidate. On February 5, Huckabee sweeps, losing only Connecticut, Utah, and Delaware to Romney, who then leaves the race.
On February 7, presumptive nominee Mike Huckabee pledges a campaign of "compassion, comparison, and civility" against presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama. New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg announces the formation of an exploratory committee for an independent presidential