Rudy Giuliani isn't even leading in New Jersey anymore, according to a Monmouth University/Gannett poll:
THE NUMBERS - REPUBLICANS
John McCain, 29 percent
Rudy Giuliani, 25 percent
Mike Huckabee, 11 percent
Mitt Romney, 9 percent
Fred Thompson, 5 percent
Ron Paul, 5 percent
A month ago, a Quinnipiac poll showed Rudy with a 26-point lead in the state next door.
I know some people are thinking "brokered convention," particularly after tonight's Romney win, but the scenarios are flawed:
Let's say Thompson or Huckabee takes South Carolina and Rudy takes Florida. Suddenly you have a situation on Feb. 5 where Rudy can win the winner take all states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut; Thompson or Huckabee takes the South; Romney wins Massachusetts and Utah; McCain wins Arizona and the rest of the states get divided up.
Er, you lost me at "Rudy takes Florida." McCain has the lead and the momentum in that state. I'm convinced that Rudy may not take anything beyond his home state.
In fact, happy as I am that the far less electable Romney beat McCain tonight, I'm worried that it isn't enough. Giuliani's dead as a doornail (though I gather he did beat "uncommitted" tonight), and Thompson really hasn't ever shown up. Huckabee can't compete in the states where Romney can win and Romney can't compete in the states where Huckabee can win. I'm afraid that still leaves McCain, who's competitive in rural states and non-rural states, and seems capable of finishing strong in states he doesn't win. Tonight notwithstanding, I still fear he's going to win the nomination, or at least go into the convention with a clear lead, and therefore be the obvious choice (particularly given his strength in head-to-head matchups with Democrats).
Cross your fingers and hope Huck beats him badly in South Carolina. But don't get your hopes up about the "badly" part.
UPDATE: CNN ascribes Romney's win to his local ties, his ability to tap into Michigan's economic anxiety, and ... support by evangelicals?
Romney was also aided by winning a strong share of evangelical voters. As predicted, evangelical turnout was up this cycle -- they constituted 38 percent of GOP primary voters. Mike Huckabee was banking on winning this bloc as overwhelmingly as he had in Iowa, but the exit polls indicate that he and Romney were essentially tied among those voters, with Romney getting the votes of 33 percent to Huckabee’s 31 percent.
Does that mean Mormon Mitt has broken through the wall of evangelical resistance? If so, that's a huge story.
But I'm not sure. I have one relative back in the Boston area who quit the Catholic Church years ago and now self-identifies as "born again," and it's my sense that there's a big difference between Northerners fundies and Southern fundies. Maybe, in this category, there's a big difference between Massachusetts and Michigan, but I bet even rural Michigan evangelicals aren't as monocultural, and therefore resistant to the idea of a Mormon president, as Southern evangelicals. We'll see.