A few thoughts in the wake of last nights elections:
John McCain. He is clearly the front runner now. He might not have won big, but he won all the big states. And he benefits even more because his putative rival, Mitt Romney, was such a big loser. Now, can he mollify conservatives?
Mike Huckabee. He kept his vice presidential ambitions alive with a surprising showing. And he got to thumb his nose at Romney besides. But he is still a regional candidate with little appeal outside the south or evangelical circles.
Hillary Clinton. She held off the Obama wave (again), and won in the big states where she had to. The terrain going forward looks pretty good for her, with big states like Texas (Latino vote) and Pennsylvania (the Rendell organization) leaning in her direction.
Barack Obama. Both Democrats were winners. Obama won more states and may actually have won more delegates. The race will go on, which means there is more time for voters to reconsider the possibility of a Hillary (and Bill) presidency.
Mitt Romney. He lost every contest he needed to win. Apparently, if you want to be the conservative alternative it helps to actually be a conservative. On issues ranging from health care to government spending, Romney was actually more liberal than McCain. Voters noticed.
Talk Radio. They said vote for Romney. Voters didn’t. They said a vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain. Voters didn’t care.
Xenophobes. Once again the anti-immigration candidate didn’t win. The issue may play well on talk radio (see above) and on the far right of the Republican Party, but it doesn’t seem to move voters.
The Democrats. While attention has been focused on the divide in the Republican Party, Democrats are beginning to see fractures in their party. Exit polls showed that half of both Clinton and Obama supporters would be dissatisfied if the opposing candidate won. Michelle Obama says that she would “have to think about” whether she would support Hillary. If this goes the convention, it could get really nasty.
Pollsters. Obama with a 13 point lead in California? Romney leading by 7? Clearly, they need to go back and rework their models.
Limited Government. OK, John McCain is a fiscal conservative. But after that its pretty dismal. The choice on the Republican side was between three versions of big-government conservative. (Ron Paul was not a factor in any state). The Democrats seem to move further left every day. For those of us seeking limited government, it looks like a long election.