Some gloated that talk radio had been beaten. Rush, Hannity et al. laughed.
Two days after McCain's victories, conservatives decended on Washington, DC for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. With GIuliani and Fred Thompson gone, Romney and Huckabee seemed to be the choice of conservatives at the conference. Romney dropped out of the race within two hours of the conference's opening and it changed the mood of the conference for most of the weekend -- perhaps the biggest blow to a conference's energy since the space shuttle columbia disintergrated during re-entry in the middle of the Saturday CPAC sessions in 2003.
The Romney booth went from swag central to empty in an hour. All that was left was a copy of the National Review "endorsement" issue on the table. Within three hours, the Ron Paul campaign had taken the area over for themselves.
For three days the mainstream media, party leaders, CPAC speakers and obviously the McCain camp urged Republicans to unite behind the new nominee.
And then Saturday afternoon came.
Despite being out of the race, CPAC attendees still gave Mitt Romney victory in the annual CPAC straw poll.
As conference attendees were packing up and heading home, word came that Huckabee had crushed McCain in Kansas. Later that night, Huckabee would win in Louisiana and hold McCain to just 25% in Washington State. Despite being out of the race, Romney received 16.5% along with Ron Paul at 20.6%.
Only in 2008 does the Republican nominee barely reach the 25% threshold in a state vote.
What next? Eighteen states hold votes over the next few months and there aren't five candidates in the race anymore.
What if McCain never does get 50% of a state's Republicans to vote for him. What if he never wins another state. He's mathamatically assurred of the nomination but what happens if half the states voted while the vote was split across five candidates and 22 have voted when there was a clear choice? What happens if McCain won 20 states in a crowded field and Huckabee wins 21 states in a mano y mano race.
Your guess is as good as mine. It's 2008 isn't it.
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