Status check Jan 23

Saturday we have the Democratic primary in South Carolina. While noting NH was missed by the pollsters, it’s still apparent that Obama will win there. One key difference is that in NH Clinton led till the Iowa election, and the NH vote was a return to trend. Here, the trend for a long time has been an SC victory for Obama – and I’ve not seen anything to break that trend.

Next Tuesday we get both party’s Florida primary. For the Democrats, Clinton cleanly leads Obama in the same way Obama holds SC. A week is enough time for things to change, but the trend difference is large. There is a separate event that may cause some serious changes all around – early enough it could impact South Carolina as well – but I don’t expect the changes to happen. That event is the upcoming action on the FISA bill with telecom immunity and Dodd’s promise to filibuster. Both Obama and Clinton said they’d support the filibuster, but their performance last time was lacking. If one — or Edwards — breaks in clear and loud support of the issue, it could have a major impact on the whole calculation. We’ll just have to see.

On the Republican side, however, things are fun. At this point a casual perusal of the polls would tell you McCain will win, Romney will get yet another silver, and Huckabee and Giuliani will duke it out for third. With the exception of McCain this is pretty much long-term trend — McCain’s numbers have climbed seriously since his recent victories, and the question is how long this pop will last. Giuliani’s slide has been my prediction for a long time, and I actually think he’ll go a bit lower. But that’s not the monkey wrench.

The monkey wrench is Thompson’s withdrawal. Who will those voters choose as their ‘next option’? There are indicators that they’ll go pretty much in a block to Huckabee. That said, the indicators are subtle and easy to misread – I’d put no money on that. If it happens, Huckabee could find himself neck and neck with Romney – and possibly closing on McCain.

Still… if Giuliani doesn’t get a 1st or 2d, his strategy is dead. He might continue through Super Tuesday. If he doesn’t, the mad scramble will be guessing where his votes will end up — in the states where he has large margins, I mean. Which are NY and CA – not small delegate counts to be ignored. It’ll be interesting.

====added later====

Interesting, and more.  The latest polls for Florida had Romney and McCain swapping numbers.  Is it a Obama type bounce from his northern victory, or something else.  Frankly, I don’t know.  I am getting more and more certain, however, that my ‘brokered convention’ guess is right.

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