Because of the multitude of dynamics at work in the Republican race at the moment, I don’t wish to analyze every possible aspect of strategy and consequence in this race. Instead I’m going to look at the upcoming Republican primary in Michigan through the eyes of a Huckabee supporter. Because that’s what I am.
The way I see it, Michigan is going to weed out one Republican candidate – if not in literal fact, then at least as a practical matter. Someone’s campaign won’t be viable any longer after this primary. For my man Huckabee, the future turns on the competition between McCain and Romney. Here’s why: If McCain wins Michigan, he’ll carry a ton of momentum into South Carolina. The reason that McCain has been rising and Huckabee has been falling for the last few days is that McCain is the closet favorite of millions of Republicans; if his candidacy looks viable, they’re going to support him. A McCain win in South Carolina would encourage Huckabee’s soft supporters to abandon him for McCain, which would just about finish Huckabee.
On the other hand, a Romney victory in Michigan would deflate McCain’s support, and that would benefit Huckabee immensely. The dynamic for Huckabee would then be the exact opposite of that described above. When McCain’s people are looking around for someone to support, they’re largely going to bypass Romney and Thompson in favor of Huckabee and, to a lesser extent, Giuliani.
Huckabee may have had hopes of winning in Michigan until a few days ago, but Willard Mitt Romney has pumped so much money and effort into the state, and McCain has been so energized by his victory in New Hampshire, that Huckabee is likely to be satisfied with 3rd place and thrilled with 2nd – and even more so if the winner turns out to be Romney.
As for Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani, they’re irrelevant in Michigan for different reasons – Thompson’s campaign is in full red-light panic mode, spending every penny and every minute in South Carolina, while Giuliani has been pursuing his big-state snob strategy, counting on his strength in New York, Florida, and California to pull him through. A loss in Michigan is nothing more than a minor embarrassment for those two.