Fred Thompson won’t win. His base is relatively small, though it is experienced and committed. He can’t win, so when he drops out, the cultural conservatives who have been his base will flock to Huckabee – the only other candidate with equally polished conservative credentials.
Romney won’t win. It’s becoming more clear with greater familiarity that his greatest assets are his hair, his teeth, and his checking account. All Mitt’s money hasn’t been enough to buy him love from the Republican rank and file. His supporters are split between rich, Wall Street Republicans and cultural conservatives. When it becomes clear that Romney can’t win, the cultural conservatives will support Huckabee, while the Wall Street fat cats will have no one else to support, so they’ll go down with the ship of Mitt.
Giuliani can’t win. He doesn’t have the necessary momentum or support in the important early states. His personal life has been a drag on his campaign from day one, and now his health is in play. When he drops out, the liberal Giuliani supporters who have heard that Huckabee is a liberal will switch their support to Huckabee. (O, wicked and bitter irony!)
As you can see, it really comes down to McCain -vs- Huckabee. McCain has charisma and is a good, decent man with a stacked resume, but his day has passed. If elected to two terms, he’d be in his 80s before the end of his administration, and Americans won’t go for that. Not from a guy in his physical condition, with all the mental and emotional baggage that people assume (rightly or wrongly) that he carries from his time at the Hanoi Hilton.
That leaves one man standing: Huckabee. And that brings up a question I’ve asked before: if and when he becomes the Republican nominee for President of the United States in 2008, will he be able to count on the support of the elites of the Republican party?