After all the hoopla, John McCain won the South Carolina primary. Imagine that, a decorated war hero POW winning the prize in the state with the country's biggest concentration of military personnel and vets per capita.
Mike Huckabee came in second. Imagine that, an evangelical Baptist minister gets the silver medal in a state with a huge evangelical population, especially in the ranks of Republican voters.
To put it into perspective, McCain and Huckabee did well in a relatively small state that has a population less than half of New York City and was tailor-made for their campaigns, but yielded only a small number of convention delegates.
For their efforts, McCain received 18 delegates and Huckabee got 6. That won't get either of them a cup of coffee at the National Convention, although it got both of them plenty of publicity. I'd love to see how that translates into dollars per delegate, based on how much each spent there.
Fred Thompson came in third which was - wait a minute! What? Thompson came in third? Ahead of Mitt Romney? NO! Say It Isn't So?
How can this be? He is supposed to be dead! Fox News said so! All week long before the vote, Fox News said he was trailing Mitt Romney - and they always added that Romney wasn't even in the South Carolina race. Thompson's poll numbers didn't move, Fox said. His support wasn't there, Fox said.
Actually, Romney was very much in the South Carolina race, pouring millions into ads, media, and staff. Romney himself took the last two weeks off from South Carolina to go to Michigan and Nevada to pick up a couple of easy wins and quick delegate counts, but his campaign was still very active in South Carolina. Shouldn't Fox be counting him out? It seems odd that instead, Fox claims Michigan, where Romney ran nearly unopposed, gave him a whopping 20 delegates that put "new life" into his candidacy.
Regarding the polls, I thought it a bit odd that when the Real Clear Politics average, which I have questioned here in the recent past, started showing Thompson closing the gap on Romney, Fox switched to its own poll which showed Thompson's numbers declining!
But here is the rub. Fox News on Saturday was showing Thompson coming in a distant fourth with 11 percent of the vote, plus or minus 4 percent. But Thompson came in a solid third with 16 percent of the vote which means that Fox not only was wrong, but it was outside of its own margin of error!
Am I the only one who has noticed that Fox wasn't talking about that on Sunday morning? Instead, Fox commentators were intoning Fred Is Dead.
Now, compare that little bit of propaganda with media reporting on Hillary Clinton. They are saying she won Nevada because she took the popular vote, but Barack Obama actually won the delegate count - by the turn of a card, no kidding. He got 13 delegates, she got 12! Big whoop!
But get this. Hillary Clinton won Nevada with a total of 5,353 votes, about six hundred more than Barack. Yeah, Five Thousand. That's it! Boy, it doesn't get much better than that! Really, it doesn't. For all the noise about the Democratic caucus in Nevada on Saturday, that was the sum total of interest in yet another state that despite its huge land size has a population similar to Connecticut's.
Fred Thompson came in third in South Carolina with nearly 67,000 votes! There is absolutely no comparison reporting going on out there.
Not one of these candidates who have been spinning their wheels for months now has enough delegates - the number that really matters - to offset the potential delegate count if there is a big winner in Florida on January 29.
All I heard on Sunday is that Thompson had a "disappointing" showing in South Carolina - which means what for Romney - "devastating?"
I guess that "disappointing" is better than the "dismal" showing that Fox was predicting on Saturday, along with its horrendously erroneous poll numbers. You realize don't you that the margin by which Fox was wrong on Thompson is more than the spread in the last presidential election?
If we can put any faith in the polls whatsoever, which probably is in the area of long term trends rather than instantaneous analysis, they show that Thompson is within striking distance of the rest of the pack in Florida. One poll shows McCain, Huckabee, Giuliani and Romney all with a point or two of either other - all under 20 percent, and Thompson about five or six points back which gives him plenty of opportunity to knock some of the others out and grab some delegates.
Has it occurred to anyone else that in the two races where Thompson has actively competed, Iowa and South Carolina, he has been discounted as a non-factor each time, listed behind other candidates who have boutique constituencies in these states, yet each time he beat one of the other major candidates. He beat McCain in Iowa and he beat Romney in South Carolina. Shouldn't that count for something?
Why does this automatically amount to Fred is Dead?
I have a question. Which came first, the news or the polls? Are the polls driving the news or is the news driving the polls?
How about some real political analysis for a change instead of these self-fulfilling prophecies posing as news? The polls are flawed and have been on both sides since the Iowa caucus. The polls should not be the deciding factor on who gets coverage and who does not.
There is a long, long way to go in this race for both Democrats and Republicans. Nothing has happened to any of the major contenders since January 1, with the possible exception of John Edwards, that should force them to withdraw from the race. It is less than a month to Super Tuesday, Florida comes before that, and as far as I can see everyone is still viable.
Giuliani, who was the anointed candidate six months ago, is being portrayed as making a huge blunder by focusing on Florida. Thompson, for whatever reason, can't seem to get a single positive story about his campaign, especially when compared to the coverage most of his Republican rivals receive.
Romney has been counted out a couple of times, but I think he actually has made some very good moves and is in a good position. This isn't over, not by a long shot, and I'd hate to see any contender drop out at this point just because of erroneous polls and off-the-mark political commentators pushing their own agendas.
Sunday, January 20, 2008