Well, things have solidified a fair amount. Here’s my projection.
McCain locks in the GOP nomination by the middle of March. Huckabee is his VP candidate. At this point I don’t see a way for Romney+Huck to stop McCain from getting the 50% mark eventually. In about two or three weeks (with the various upcoming primaries and caucuses) this trend will continue. What Huckabee will do is trade his delegates for the VP slot, giving McCain the lock early enough that there’s still some shot at money – and they can spend more time shooting at Democrats instead of their own feet. By the way, I think Romney would be willing to do so as well, but my impression is that McCain likes Huckabee a WHOLE lot more than he likes Romney.
The thought of Huckabee being a hearbeat away from the big chair scares the crap out of me.
On the other side, it’s going to go pretty close to the end before a canddiate is selected. Here’s the deal – if we exclude the superdelegates, the two candidates are pretty much neck and neck. Superdelegates can change their minds. (Technically so can state delegates, though most have rule that their first vote is for the candidate who earned their selection.) If I’m following the numbers right less than half the superdelegates have announced support of either candidate. That leaves 10% of the nomination vote uncommitted. And at this time it appears the two candidates are going to be WELL within that 10% margin, meaning it’s the superdelegates that’ll make the decision.
Don’t bet on it being Clinton. There’s been a surprisingly even split between the two, and the remaining delegates are, well, uncommitted. There is STILL a really good chance the Democrats will go to a brokered convention, and if that happens I’d be completely unsurprised to see a O-C or C-O ticket come out. For that matter, given that the majority of primary voters yesterday said they would be satisfied if the OTHER candidate won, it’s possible we’ll see it happen earlier. If, that is, one of the two gets a clear lead.
I’ve said before that a brokered convention is not automatically bad. It’s bad if the candidates are having to deal with dirt not only from the other side but from within the party. But this season has been surprisingly “nice”. Both candidates generally express respect and support for one another. It make it hard for the other party to divide and conquer – defeat in detail.
And if this is going on, an extended campaign works to the advantage of that party because it’s free advertising for the party.
We’ll see how this plays when McCain gets a lock and starts attacking the two Dems. My suspicion is that the two will work to tag-team him regardless of which is attacked. They learned already that mud from THEIR people is bad. And as I’ve said, the more mud you throw the more splashes back, and having to throw at two targets getting each ‘dirty enough’ is a LOT of mud. Add to this “shoulders joined against a common enemy” is a very progressive message, and… that’s the best gamed choice.
But all we have right now is that McCain will probably be declared the R nominee within a month, and the D side is functionally neck and neck to the finish line.