Posted: January 16, 2008 5:50 PM
GOP Still Sans Front-runner as Super Tuesday Looms
Almost a fortnight has passed since the Iowa caucuses and former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s win, followed by Sen. John McCain’s big comeback in New Hampshire.
Then, former Gov. Mitt Romney came out on top in Wyoming’s caucuses and Michigan’s primary — leaving the GOP with no clear front-runner headed into Saturday’s South Carolina contest and beyond.
“At this rate, (Fred) Thompson will win South Carolina and (Rudy) Giuliani Florida,” Slate jested. “The GOP primary is starting to look like a Pee Wee soccer tournament: Everyone gets a trophy!”
Time magazine’s Mark Halperin assessed what each Republican candidate has going for him in a ‘front-runner-less field’.
Polls show a mixed bag of predictions with McCain just slipping ahead of Huckabee in South Carolina, according to an average of polls.
In Florida, McCain and Giuliani are tied in another average of polls, but Huckabee and Romney are both within easy striking distance.
But despite all these primary appetizers, there’s still an all-you-can-eat political buffet on the horizon: Feb. 5, better known as Super Tuesday or a handful of other superlative monikers.
Regardless of its nickname, Feb. 5 is “the biggest and most challenging single day in a recent campaign for a party nomination” with 20-plus states voting for each party, the Washington Post’s Dan Balz wrote.
“No campaign, no matter how flush with money, can afford full-scale operations in that many states,” Balz said. “By one estimate, the cost of a standard run of television advertising in each of the states for a week would be about $35 million.”
Candidates from both parties are anxiously looking ahead to that day, which is less than three weeks away.
“The plan of every candidate is to be riding on a wave of momentum,” Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain campaign adviser told the Post. “The momentum is what carries you through on February 5.”
In that case, perhaps Giuliani’s ignore-everything-before-Florida strategy will pan out after all.
The trick with this year’s Super Tuesday, campaign strategist Donna Brazile told Balz in the Post report, is that candidates must determine how to introduce themselves to voters who have paid only limited attention so far as well as decide which states really matter.
But until that day come, enjoy the quadrennial spectacle that is candidates striving to lavish praise upon a southern staple, as in this 2004 flashback.
On a side note, Huckabee seems to be the front-runner thus far in the battle of grits.