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SuperTuesday's Split Decision

By Barbara Gordon - Posted on 21 January 2008

Michael Duffy and Rani Molla pose a scenario in which the GOP emerges from SuperTuesday with a rough four-way tie among Romney, McCain, Giuliani, and Huckabee.

It's an interesting possibility, and certainly it's looking less and less likely that there will be a single frontrunner following Feb 5th. The authors didn't intend for this to be any kind of scientific projection, but just for fun I want to look at their assumptions. They're correct that Romney will take Utah in a landslide, but I wouldn't cede the other Mountain states to Mitt just yet. There is a strong libertarian independent steak out west, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Ron Paul pull, say, Montana or Wyoming and come in second elsewhere. We already saw him finish strong in Nevada.

For a four-way tie to work out, Huckabee would have to stay strong. As long as Huckabee is viable, he will keep splitting the social conservative vote with Romney. But watching Huckabee evokes that feeling you get watching a young ice skater perform the long program in the Olympics. You have a sense that the stumble will come at any turn. If Huckabee were to make a misstep and collapse, I think McCain would have a tough time competing head to head with Romney, and Romney surges ahead.

California is the big unknown. The Time article assumes, for the sake of argument, that California's delegates split 50% McCain, 25% Romney, and 25% Giuliani. It's impossible to guess what the split will really be. But California has 173 delegates, and their allocation will play a huge role in which candidate/s come out on top on SuperTuesday.


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