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McCain wins Florida Primary

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on January 30, 2008

As the votes came in last night from the highly-contested Republican Primary election in Florida, it was clear around an hour after the last polls closed that Senator John McCain won this crucial vote. McCain earned 36% to Mitt Romney’s 31%, a decisive margin in a state where over 1.8 million Republicans voted (and where the closed primary prevents registered Independents, allegedly McCain’s strongest supporters, from voting). Rudy Giuliani came in 3rd with 15%, edging out Mike Huckabee’s 14% by 22,000 votes. The 57 delegates awarded to McCain for his victory under Florida’s winner-take-all system catapult him into 1st place in the delegate count, where he previously trailed Romney and Huckabee.

My take: In next weeks “Super/Mega/Ultra Tuesday” primaries, McCain can win Arizona, California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey, as he led in the polls in these state before yesterday’s victory. McCain’s prospects in these states as well as in the closer states of Connecticut, Tennessee, Alabama, and Oklahoma will probably be better once voters and pollsters react to Giuliani’s decision to leave the race and endorse McCain. After McCain’s good-but-not-great performance in tonight’s Republican California debate,  all major news bureaus are reporting that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse McCain tomorrow. It looks like McCain will come out of February 5th with a substantial lead in pledged delegates if not a plurality. McCain is also ahead in the later-primary but delegate-rich states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Texas, and Ohio. Even if many in Republican Party establishment refuse to back McCain due to his frequent breaks with the party on high-profile issues (such as climate change, campaign finance reform, stem cell research, torture of terrorist suspects, and immigration reform) his support from delegates and voters makes it increasingly unlikely that Romney can edge him out for the nomination.

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