Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McCain Wins Decisively in Florida!

John McCain prevailed over Mitt Romney in Florida's hard-fought Republican presidential primary. The New York Times has the story:

Senator John McCain won a closely contested Florida primary on Tuesday night, capturing the biggest delegate prize of the primary season so far and adding a crucial jolt of momentum to his campaign as the nominating fight expands into a national race next Tuesday.

The Arizona senator, who was outspent by his competitors in the state, drew on the support of moderate and socially liberal voters to beat out Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and his chief rival for the nomination.

Lagging far behind was Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, who had virtually staked his campaign on a strong showing in the Florida race. Mr. Giuliani, who spent weeks campaigning across the Florida peninsula, is fighting for third place with former Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potentially fatal performance on a do-or-die night for the former mayor.

Mr. McCain had 36 percent of the vote and Mr. Romney had 32 percent with more than three-quarters of the precincts reporting. Mr. Giuliani had 15 percent of the vote, while Mr. Huckabee had 14 percent.

“Our victory might not have reached landslide proportions but it is sweet nonetheless,” Mr. McCain said to supporters. He described himself as a “Republican conservative,” though Mr. Romney attracted more support from Florida voters who called themselves as “very” conservative.

Mr. Giuliani, speaking to supporters in Orlando, Fla., broadcast a large smile even as his candidacy appeared to be coming to a close. “You don’t always win,” he said. “You can always try to do it right.”

He referred to his campaign several times in the past tense. “I’m proud that we chose to stay positive and to run a campaign of ideas in an era of personal attacks, negative ad and cynical spin,” he said. “We ran a campaign that was uplifting.”
McCain, thanking his supporters during his victory speech, stressed his campaign's victory in the season's first all-Republican primary.

The Arizona Senator relied on the support of moderates and socially liberal Republicans, but McCain's win puts to rest his opponents' attacks that his campaign appealed primarily to voters outside the GOP.

The Republican race has taken a dramatic turn with tonight's results.

Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid has completely collapsed, with the former New York City Mayor's withrawal from the race expected tomorrow (combined with a McCain endorsement).

Mitt Romney remains McCain's top challenger for the nomination, and while the race is far from over, the Republican primaries this year have clearly demonstrated the irresistable power of momentum.

McCain won both the major contested primaries following his New Hampshire win, in South Carolina and Florida tonight.

Analysts - such as David Gergen on CNN's election coverage - are referring to McCain as a presumptive nominee - folks are identifying the challenges McCain faces in unifying the Republican Party as a prerequisite to effectively taking on the Democrats in November.

Polls have trended McCain's way since his victory in the Granite State.

Today's Los Angeles Times finds McCain holding a substantial lead in California heading into the Golden State's February 5 primary.

Robert Novak, after the New Hampshire results, predicted that McCain was the likely GOP nominee.

It's sure looking that way now.