So, just a few days before Super-Tuesday, when Republicans will be voting in 21 states and Democrats in 22, here’s a flashback of the two races up to the Florida vote.
· John McCain, 71, Senator from Arizona.
· Mitt Romney, 60, Massachusetts Governor.
· Rudolph Giuliani, 63, former New York Mayor.
· Mike Huckabee, 52, Arkansas Governor.
· Fred Thompson, 65, former Senator from Tennessee.
· Ron Paul, 72, member of the House of Representatives from Texas.
The race opens with an upset: Mike Huckabee, coming out of nowhere, wins the Republican caucuses in Iowa. Romney comes in second.
A few days later, John McCain stages an impressive comeback winning in New Hampshire. Mitt Romney makes a second second place and Giuliani slips out of public sight, runs out of votes and seems to be sinking.
Mitt Romney wins in Michigan (important), and Nevada and Wyoming (nobody else seemed to care). The nomination is wide open.
Third episode: South Carolina. The race turns ugly between Huckabee and McCain. For the former it’s a unique chance of scoring a second victory and getting back on the race; for the latter, it is about shoring up front runner status and doing away with the 2000 ghosts (he lost the state to George W. Bush). In the end, McCain wins, Huckabee is 2nd and Romney 3rd. Thompson is 4th as withdraws, becoming the race’s first significant casualty.
Florida is the 4th largest state in the Union and it is the place Giuliani chose for his final stand for the nomination, a high stakes make or break gamble. Finishing only 3rd with 15%, the 2008 race ends for Giuliani before it actually started; it was a tragic and premature political death of the candidate who was the front-runner for much of 2007. Huckabee survives but the race is now for two: McCain who scored an important victory (36%) and Mitt Romney who finished 2nd with 31%.
Prospects: the fact that Huckabee remains on the race will hurt Romney more than McCain. Giuliani endorsed McCain and that should be a plus on Super-Tuesday, especially in New York and New Jersey.
Hunch: Senator McCain will emerge from Super-Tuesday and the Republican Party nominee.
Present Delegate distribution (195 elected out of a total of 2380):
1- John McCain 95
2- Mitt Romney 67
3- Mike Huckabee 26
4- Ron Paul 6
5- Rudy Giuliani 1
My personal favourite: Senator John McCain.