Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mitt Romney Crushes Rivals In Nevada Republican Caucuses; Ron Paul Duking It Out With John McCain For Second

Special Note: Post updated January 20th at 2:00 A.M. MST to include final caucus totals and corrected delegate totals. Corrections posted in green.

With all the votes counted, Mitt Romney has won a landslide victory over his rivals in the Nevada Republican caucuses. Romney actually garnered more votes by himself than all other candidates combined. As a matter of fact, Romney's victory is so staggering that ABC News projected him the winner after only 3% of the vote had been counted. At stake were 34 delegates; while Nevada is not a winner-take-all state, Romney picked up the lion's share. The committed delegate count coming in, by my numbers, was Romney 42, Huckabee 32, McCain 13, Thompson 3, and Hunter 1. Note that there are several standards in use for counting delegates; I am now using the RealClearPolitics count as my standard.

Candidate, Votes, Vote %, Delegates
Mitt Romney: 22,649, 51%, 17
Ron Paul: 6,087, 14%, 4
John McCain: 5,651, 13%, 4
Mike Huckabee: 3,616, 8%, 3
Fred Thompson: 3,521, 8%, 2
Rudy Giuliani: 1,910, 4%, 1
Duncan Hunter: 890, 2%, 0

The remaining three delegates will be uncommitted RNC delegates. The committed delegate count at the end of this caucus is now Romney 59, Huckabee 35, McCain 17, Thompson 5, Paul 4, Giuliani 1, and Hunter 1

This is Romney's third victory, including Wyoming and Michigan. Local Utah media reports are already surfacing in the Deseret Morning News, the Salt Lake Tribune HERE and HERE, and KSL Channel 5. National coverage on CNN, and note CNN's overt bias in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Las Vegas Review-Journal coverage HERE.

Pre-primary polls showed that Romney was getting a bump from his hard-fought Michigan victory. RealClearPolitics' composite poll showed Romney up by five points over John McCain. However, only one last-minute poll, a Mason-Dixon poll showed a significant shift in Romney's favor, indicating a 19-point Romney lead over McCain. But even that proved pessimistic.

The victory itself is not a big surprise; after all, Nevada adjoins Utah, which is clearly Romney Country, and exit polls show that 20% of voters are Mormons. So he got a Mormon bump, obviously. However, the magnitude of the victory remains astonishing, and must be attributed to Romney's last-minute decision to de-emphasize South Carolina, where he was running a distant third, in order to campaign all out in Nevada. In addition, exit polls showed voters' primary concerns were the economy and illegal immigration, which also helped Romney.

But those two issues also propelled a much less-heralded candidate to a better-than-expected finish. Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who has endured an unprecedented battering from the anti-racist liberal media and the neocon-controlled establishment media, has exceeded expectations. Relegated to a single-digit finish by all pre-caucus polls, Paul is in a dogfight with John McCain for second place in Nevada, although in the final analysis, McCain will probably nose him out by a cat's whisker (Note: I was wrong, Paul pulled ahead and grabbed second). However, it will be the first top-three finish for Paul, and may cause some establishment wonkers to take him more seriously. Paul's performance in Nevada shouldn't be that much of a surprise; after all, Nevada was one of the focal points of what was known as the "Sagebrush Rebellion" during the 1980s, which was fueled by land use issues. Ron Paul's constitutional vision and vigorous defense of private property rights would appeal to that constituency.

On the Democratic side, after an earlier dogfight, Hillary Clinton appears to be pulling away from Barack Obama and is enroute to victory. What's somewhat unexpected is the continued steady evaporation of support for John Edwards. This latter development indicates to me that straight white males are increasingly unwelcome in national Democratic politics. However, I think much of his white support may be migrating to Hillary Clinton; in a straight-up contest between Hillary and Obama, with everything else being equal, most white Democrats will probably vote for the white female over the chocolate candidate. People may pay lip service to diversity, but the suburbs show the real attitude towards it.

In today's South Carolina primary, RealClearPolitics' composite poll projects a handy victory for Barack Obama in the Democratic primary to be held on January 26th, primarily because South Carolina has many more blacks. However, today's Republican primary is a bit more complex, with three tiers. The top tier is McCain and Huckabee, fighting for first. The second tier is Romney and Thompson, fighting for third. Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani are duking it out for the cellar. However, Huckabee's star is starting to wane as evidence of his duplicity continues to mount. In addition, Paul's support may be underreflected in the polls.

Click HERE for up-to-date South Carolina results.

So here's my predicted order of finish in South Carolina: McCain by a narrow margin over Huckabee, Rommey third slightly ahead of Thompson, and Ron Paul fifth by a wider margin over Rudy Giuliani.

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