I have a fair amount of experience in these small-group elections, and if I were running the Blackwell campaign, I would NOT drop out, not budge at all. Now is actually the time for him to make his move UP. Here is what the results so far mean: Duncan is toast, because the “status quo” vote isn’t going to grow any more. Steele already has rallied all the moderates, but there aren’t enough of them for him to win and he’ll probably top out at 65 or 70 votes (with 85 needed to win). The race will become Steele vs., eventually, one other person. Whomever emerges as that other person probably wins.
The question then becomes, where do Duncan’s 48 votes go? In the end, they probably don’t go to Dawson: He ruffled a lot of feathers last fall by so openly running against Duncan before the November elections had even occurred, plus there still are just enough people concerned about the PR of the all-white country club that he has a ceiling he can’t breach. So, do they go to Anuzis, or to Blackwell? I’d call it a split for now. But where do Dawson’s votes eventually go? Mostly to Blackwell, I imagine, if he stays in. First, Dawson’s supporters tend to be more conservative, so ideologically they might lean Blackwell. Second, I think there is bad blood between Dawson and Anuzis — whereas I think there is appreciation, in the Dawson camp, for Blackwell having publicly defended Dawson on the country club thing.
So, what I see is a celing for Duncan and a ceiling for Dawson. Blackwell eventually gets 24 of Duncan’s votes, plus his own 19, plus, say, 24 of Dawson’s 29. That puts him up to 67, with Steele about the same number, and with Anuzis at about 35. All of which means it becomes a contest between Steele and Blackwell for the 35 Anuzis votes. And quite a contest it will be: Anuzis himself will probably favor Steele, because of his rivalry with the Yobs (who are backing Blackwell). But Anuzis’s folks may A) favor Blackwell’s stronger conservatism and B) favor Blackwell’s far better record of fundraising and more extensive resume. So I’d say Blackwell still has a real chance, if he plays his cards right. Again, it’s all in the way you deal with people in the foyers and aisles of the convention room.
And if Blackwell’s people are checking AmSpecBlog, they might want to see how my analysis matches up with theirs.