It'll be interesting to see how Mike Huckabee does in Virginia. This is, after all, the state where, in 2000, John McCain called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, "agents of intolorance." If McCain does well, that probably signals that grassroots (outside the Beltway) conservatives are finally rallying around him as the presumptive nominee. But if Huckabee should happen to win, it means conservatives are sending McCain a big message.
Either way, John McCain will likely win the nomination, and go on to face the Democratic nominee. But can he win? I believe McCain can beat Hillary Clinton for two reasons: 1). Conservatives, no matter what they say today, will come out to defeat Hillary, and 2). McCain will pick up enough moderate/conservative Dems and Independents to win. Barack Obama, on the other hand, would be tougher to defeat. A McCain/Obama race would essentially come down to who can define what the election is about. If it's about experience, McCain would win; if it's about change, Obama wins.
Another reason McCain can beat the Democrats is precisely what Mitt Romney said yesterday: We benefit by picking a nominee early -- while Dems are hurt by the continued in-fighting. A worst-case scenario for the Dems would be if the "super delegates" end up deciding the election -- and they "decide" it for Clinton. I can't help but think that would cause dramatic turmoil and dissention among Democrats, and ultimately, help elect McCain.
Stay tuned ...