Way, way back in the long ago days of February, I suggested that “The fully frontloaded system replaces not the slow unfolding of primary and caucus states common through, say, 1976, but an already semi-frontloaded system instead. It is the latter, the semi, that produced overly quick ends to the nomination battles — but the fully frontloaded system may do just the opposite…. RATHER THAN PROVIDING UNSTOPPABLE momentum to any one candidate, in other words, the widespread voting on Feb. 5 could serve to keep all three “major” candidates and even a couple of minor ones alive. Nobody could claim a mandate, the vitriol would continue to grow, and the dissatisfaction already being voiced by conservatives might take on pandemic proportions.”
The idea of a national convention that actually decides something was very much in my mind.
Anyway, I am still seeing this as a real possibility. Here’s the deal: the two big-money, big-organization candidates, Giuliani and Romney, are doing slow fades. On the other hand, because they have such combinations of money, organization, and name ID, they are likely to keep fighting for quite a while.
Meanwhile, the other three “front runners” COULD all stay alive, and could actually emerge from South Carolina into what looks (falsely) like ONLY a three-way battle, with the Rudy-Romney show apparently dead. Here’s how:
Huckabee wins Iowa, but all the well-deserved attacks on him finally start to sink in, so his victory margin isn’t very large. Finishing a stronger-than-expected second by picking up votes from a fading Romney and a stumbling Huckabee, while benefiting greatly from the endorsement of Rep. Steve King, is Fred Thompson. In New Hampshire, McCain wins with Romney second. In South Carolina, Thompson ekes out a close win over Huck, with McCain a strong third. (Nevada will also have gone to McCain, perhaps.)
THEN, pray tell, who is the front-runner? Nobody. All three candidates will have done well in two out of three contests. All three will be strong enough to fight another day.
But – AHA — Florida awaits, with Giuliani suddenly being able to say, hey, I TOLD you that nothing would be solved by the first three big contests, so Florida IS indeed relevant — and, Floridians, here is your chance to put YOUR stamp on things by going for me and finally showing those three early states that they have had the spotlight and power for far too long…..
And so on, with ebbs and flows and rises and falls throughout the winter and spring. Even Ron Paul will win a state, perhaps (Alaska).
You heard it here first.