February 11, 2008

Should Huckabee Withdraw?

UPDATE II: We're adding the AOL Hot Seat poll to this post and bumping it to the top:

[Poll expired.]

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UPDATE III: In the post, I note that the rest of the contests are proportional-allocation states. That's not correct; Virginia and DC tomorrow are both winner-take all, with 63 and 19 delegates each. Unfortunately for Huckabee, he's trailing badly in Virginia, and also in Maryland's closed primary.

Original post follows ....


Mike Huckabee won two of the three contests in the Republican primaries yesterday as he benefitted from the withdrawal of Mitt Romney. He took Louisiana and Kansas and narrowly lost Washington to John McCain, but still remains far back of the presumptive nominee. In fact, Huckabee remains in third place in the delegate counts:

Sen. Barack Obama narrowed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's lead in the fight for Democratic presidential delegates Saturday, sweeping three states, while Sen. John McCain hit a detour on his march to the Republican nomination.

Obama won Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington by wide margins as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won Kansas and Louisiana, and McCain won a tight race in Washington.

No one should be surprised to see Huckabee win in the South and in the Midwest. Louisiani borders Huckabee's home state of Arkansas, and Kansas has nearly the same affinity for economic populism as Iowa. In both of the midwestern states, the caucus system favors the candidates who appeal more to party activists, and McCain doesn't have that.

The delegate math still shows Huckabee's task as an impossibility. Already, over half of the delegates have been pledged. With 1147 remaining, McCain leads Huckabee by just about 500, 714-217. The nominee needs 1,191 to win, which means that McCain only needs 477 more to clinch. Since all of the remaining states allocate delegates proportionally, McCain would have to garner less than 35% of the delegates outstanding in a two-man race to have the GOP convention open without a nominee.

It's simply not going to happen. McCain is going to beat Huckabee in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania -- in fact, he'll get outright majorities in those states. The same will be true in Oregon, Wisconsin, and Indiana. In a three-man race, perhaps Huckabee and Romney could have forced an open convention, but Romney was smart enough to see that and withdrew for the good of the party. Huckabee will eventually see the same equation and result after next week's wrap-up of the Southern Tour.

UPDATE: The Republican nominee needs 1191 delegates to win, not 1081. I've adjusted the data accordingly. Thanks to Vayapaso, aka Mom, for the correction. (Yes, yes, you're never too old to be corrected by your mother. Let that be a lesson to all of you.)


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