Why McCain Matters

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Sep 06, 2007 8:25 AM


A few months ago, I discussed the possibility of a McComeback

While John McCain still has a long way to go if he is going to make this a real race, he may look back at last night's debate performance as a turning point toward revitalizing his campaign (Note:  While I thought McCain merely did well last night, a lot of others are saying he won the debate).

As the biggest supporter of the "Surge" strategy, McCain suffered the most when it appeared to be failing.  But now that the surge seems to be working, he stands to gain.  And I think he scored some points against Romney on that very issue, last night.

It is becoming clear that McCain is more comfortable now than he was before.  While the succcess of the surge surely has something to do with his confidence, my guess is that while his former campaign was most likely more talented and better organized than his current team -- they also didn't "get" John McCain the way his current team does.  For whatever reason -- maybe a psychological need to be the underdog -- McCain seemed more like himself last night.  And that may spell trouble for the other candidates.

Of course, McCain's big problem is still a lack of money.  While I don't see that changing any time soon, I do believe there is a chance he will shock everyone and win the New Hampshire Primary.  If he does that, he will have a window of opportunity to raise some real money.

So why do I believe McCain still has a shot at New Hampshire.  Aside from the fact that he won it in 2000, Granite Staters relish their role in sticking a thumb in the eye of conventional wisdom.  If Paul Tsongas and Pat Buchanan can win there, so can John McCain.

Another interesting fact about New Hampshire is that you can basically register on Election Day.  That makes it a wild card, and hard to predict.  Here's one such wild scenario:  Let's say Hillary were to win big in Iowa.  It is possible that some Democrats would abandon Obama and vote for Republican McCain, thinking Obama has no chance to comeback. 

Remember, while McCain may not be Mr. Popularity among Republcan party regulars, in states like Michigan and New Hampshire, Democrats and Independents can often play a large role in the outcome of the GOP Primary.

Of course, this scenario is pure speculation -- McCain might just as easily be hurt by defections from his camp to a Democrat.  My point is that it's too early to rule out a maverick-Independent who has won the state the last time a primary there mattered.  Who would have anticipated he would have beaten Bush in New Hampshire or Michigan in 2000?