CNN has the up to the minute results.
It's clear there were no knockout punches thrown. But McCain has his rivals on the ropes and is amassing points, with some very effective combinations. Currently, he has half the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination, while on the Democratic side, neither Obama and Clinton have quite reached the halfway point yet. Some experts are saying there is a good chance we will see a brokered convention.
Despite the efforts of hardcore conservative talk show hosts, like Rush Limbaugh, McCain is starting to create some breathing room. This indicates that the conservative base of the party is not wielding as much influence as they once did. And it's killing them, inside.
Yesterday, I wrote about the letter Bob Dole sent to Rush, asking him to tone down his criticisms of McCain. (You can read it here, if you haven't already.)
Like Ann Coulter and some others, Rush would rather see a Democrat win than McCain.
Rush Limbaugh has been relentless in his criticism of John McCain, prompting suggestions that he may have to soften his stance if the Arizona senator wins the nomination and faces off against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But if that happens, Limbaugh said in an interview over the weekend, he would rather see the Democrats win the White House.
"If I believe the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit . . . rather than a Republican causing the debacle," he said. "And I would prefer not to have conservative Republicans in the Congress paralyzed by having to support, out of party loyalty, a Republican president who is not conservative."
I rarely listen to Rush for a host of reasons, One of them can be clearly be seen in his statement, contained in this article.
Here is Rush being a party hack, putting his party ahead of the country. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make a comparative (and in some cases contrasting) examination of McCain's record against those of Obama and Clinton. No, he may not be as conservative as he (and others) would like him to be. But, if we objectively assess things, we can see there really is a shift in this country. More people are tired of the same old polar opposite rhetoric that is threatening to divide this nation, as a result more are shifting towards the center.
The Dems now have two candidates that are ideologically, very similar. You may not hear Obama saying a damned thing about anything, on specific issues. You may hear him say the word change, hope, vision, incessantly. And you may hear the Obama camp try to paint him as some kind of alternative to the usual Washington establishment. But, make no mistake, he would support the same tax and spend policies that Hillary would, if he were elected. There's nothing new about that philosophy, at all. The government has been doing this for years.
It's all in the packaging, you just can't see it right now because Obama and his supporters know that telling people how he will play Robin Hood (like his Democratic rival), will not get them elected. Knowing this as they do, they merely trumpet the "banner of change" argument. In short, the Dems are dividing their party based on personality, far more so than the GOP.
In the Republican Party, we see some of that on the surface. There are many that simply do not like Romney. They have no good reason for it, they just cannot stand him. But underneath it all, there is a set of dynamics that is more complex than in the Democratic Party.
While the underlying ideology is the same with the Dems, the GOP has two factions: The conservatives and moderates.
Right now, the conservative base that was once so strong is starting to divide. Those that support Huckabee are theocrats. Their support for him is based on social issues that I think have no place in politics. The other faction is what I call the economicrats. They are supporting Romney, solely based on his business background. The issue of which issue is most important, seems to be the reason for the split, with much of it centered around religion.
McCain is attracting those that see the weaknesses of both of his rivals. Whether it is real or imagined, both Romney and Huckabee are perceived as being one-dimensional; and it seems they lack more in their weak areas, than they are strong in their strengths.
In my mind and the minds of many others like me, there is but one prevailing issue that will decide this election: National Security. And this is McCain's true strength, in sharp contrast to the other two.
But that's not all. There is another factor to consider in this.
While Huckabee and Romney may receive accolades from Dobsen and Rush, the moderates are now beginning to outnumber both factions, collectively. This is in contrast to the Dems, where the liberal base is getting stronger. Based on what we can see at this point in time, McCain is looking like he can attract disaffected moderate Dems and disaffected moderate Republicans that are not wanting to polarize any further. In my view, this will give him an reasonable advantage in the general election campaign.
It will not guarantee anything, mind you. But when the curtain calls go up, I think more people will feel more comfortable voting for him than either Obama or Hillary, despite whatever misgivings they may have about him on certain domestic issues.
Rush and Company will either have to get over it, or they will be responsible for hearing the words President Obama or Clinton, for a full four years. But maybe this is what Rush wants. After all, his rise to fame occurred during the Clinton years. Clinton was good business for him. And what may be good for his wallet, may turn out to be disastrous for the rest of us that will be required to pay the overhead for a Democratic President.