Thompson will be actually or figuratively gone. That leaves Romney, McCain and Rudy. The playing field is tipped in McCain and Rudy's favor on issues -- the economy and defense -- and away from a key issue Romney has tried to use against these two --immigration. (Romney also will be squeezed by Huckabee in the search for social conservative votes.) Huckabee will have a shot at the state only because he has a base of value voters in the Panhandle and the I-4 corridor. Without Thompson nipping at Huckabee's heels he might secure 25% or so of the electorate. All that said, McCain will get a bump from SC and his poll numbers will rise, fueling his claims of inevitability and electability. He'll be the favorite and the target. Rudy will have to knock him down to size to stay in the race. Thursday's debate should be very interesting.
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