- McCain: “Thank you, South Carolina, for bringing us across the
finish line first in the first-in-the-South primary. It took us a
while, but what’s eight years among friends?” Watch his victory speech.
- McCain 33%; Huckabee 30%; Fred Thompson 16%; Romney 15%; Ron Paul 4%; Rudy Giuliani 2% (full results).
The markets now give McCain a more than 50% chance of winning the Republican nomination.
Marc Ambinder lists the seven reasons why McCain was able to win South Carolina - a state that ended his challenge against George W Bush eight years ago. Top reason is probably his fifth: Fred Thompson (McCain's Senate buddy) taking conservative votes away from Huckabee. That's certainly Tim Shipman's view: "The laconic former senator grabbed 20 per cent shares of the vote in Christian conservative parts of the state, which otherwise might have gone to Mike Huckabee." By staying in the race in Florida, Shipman believes that he can help McCain prevail and be rewarded with the Attorney General post in a McCain administration.
Mark Steyn believes that McCain is now the GOP's only genuine national candidate. He disses Giuliani's claim to be able to run a fifty state strategy:
"Rudy's campaign announced itself as one, but, as I said a while back, it quickly turned into a 1-800 candidacy, rooted in no real area code, with no real physical presence, as if he'd outsourced the thing to a call center in Bombay. That's why his team have spent most of the last month artfully explaining why it doesn't matter that ten per cent of American states have consigned "America's Mayor" to a statistical asterisk. I'd love to hear from Lisa, David Frum or our old pal JPod if this is truly where they expected the "frontrunner" to be at this stage in the game: Two per cent in South Carolina, and a grand total of one delegate."
Who is now the 'Stop McCain' candidate? Mark Steyn thought it still might be Rudy (who has put tax at the heart of his fading hopes for a Floridian victory). Ross Douthat thinks it's Mitt Romney.
There is certainly appetite for Stopping McCain as TPM reminds us: "A few days ago, Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show that "we" find John McCain "unacceptable." Yesterday the disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said that "McCain has done more to hurt the Republican party than any elected official I know of."
It's definitely over for Duncan Hunter. He announces he's quitting the GOP race. Thompson's third place probably means it's over for him. Rush Limbaugh's endorsement wasn't enough. The Times' Across The Pond blog also concludes that Huckabee may be finished, too:
"Mike Huckabee fails to win a state dominated by his natural suporters - evangelical Christians. This is a body blow to Huckabee and he will eventually have to call it quits. He may well prove to be a one-state (Iowa) wonder. He wouldn't be the first."
HILLARY CLINTON WINS NEVADA
Toby Harnden thinks Clinton's win 'a big one' and emphasises her victory among Hispanics: "Exit polls showed that 64 per cent of Hispanics voted for Clinton compared to 23 per cent for Obama – this despite the endorsement of the Culinary Workers’ Union, which has a membership that is at least 40 per cent Latino. Thousands of Hispanic workers, it seems, defied their union... Obama will probably win South Carolina, which has a majority black Democratic electorate, on Saturday. But not even an historic black turnout on Super Duper Tuesday will save him if he cannot win Hispanic votes in states like California and New York."