2008 GOP Primary Contest — A Retrospective

Now that McCain is guaranteed the nomination, I figured it was time to look back and to reflect on how and why we arrived at this juncture. There are a number of old political lessons that were re-affirmed.

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1. Single-Issue Conservatives *Always* Will Defeat Their Own Causes

The Sun rises in the East. Death and taxes. Dick Clark on New Year’s Eve.

Along similar lines, single-issue conservatives will defeat their own causes.

Self-defeatism on the part of the one-issue right has occurred every two years, in every general election cycle, state and federal, coast-to-coast — for multiple decades. In years and decades past those truisms usually applied to single-issue abortion voters (and non-voters). This time around, however, the single-issue border blocs started a political chain of events that will result in John McCain(!) being nominated for the presidency.

Witness South Carolina.

If McCain had been defeated in South Carolina, then his entire campaign for all practical purposes would have been over and done. He needed the free advertising and momentum that went along with winning. 2nd place would not have cut it.

The single-issue border folks, however, loudly demanding “ideological purity,” but ironically not in agreement even amongst themselves over whom to support, defeated their own causes by splitting up their votes. Some backed Romney (endorsed by Tom Tancredo). Others backed Thompson (the “next Reagan,” which of course was ironic on various levels, given the 1986 amnesty law Reagan signed). Still others backed Huckabee (endorsed by “Minuteman” Founder Jim Gilchrist).

Each and every vote for Thompson in South Carolina completely was wasted. Thompson’s campaign was over the very instant Iowa reported its results. So too the votes that particular day for Romney were wasted. For reasons that should have been obvious, Romney never had a realistic chance of winning *any* state in the deep South.

McCain was gift-wrapped a plurality victory over Huckabee — in many respects by default, with a winning margin far less than the vote totals obtained, respectively, by Romney and Thompson. The win in South Carolina gave McCain just enough of a boost to prevail in Florida. After Florida the “inevitability factor” set in, some key endorsements were granted, Romney’s campaign imploded, and McCain on Super Tuesday prevailed in all but one of the big-delegate states. The rest, as they say, is history.

2. Seniority is a Big Factor in GOP Primary Contests

Nixon in ’68. Ford over Reagan in ’76. Reagan over Dole in ’80. Bush, Sr. over the field in ’88. Dole in ’96.

In each instance the Republican nomination went to the person with the most seniority. Whether or not a particular candidate was “more conservative” or “less conservative” was not a determining factor.

This year the GOP nomination will go to the candidate: (i) by far with the most seniority, and (ii) by far the most paid-in dues. That’s not *entirely* coincidental.

3. Conservative Talk Radio is the Mirror Image of the Far Left

Not even a liberal Moonbat circa 1972 would have had the gall to have attacked Nixon for the man’s personal WWII military service. Yet here we are in 2008, less than a decade removed from 9/11, in the midst of a shooting war, and so-called conservatives on talk radio have sunk as low to attack McCain not only for certain policy viewpoints (fair enough) but also for his military service bona fides. McCain was being tortured and beaten in Hanoi while the leading conservative talk radio hosts were picking zits off their faces or playing with Legos.

The anti-McCain radio blocs also have managed to accomplish the ultimate in the way of ironies. They’ve become the very same things of which they’ve incessantly accused the far left: Factually inaccurate, driven solely by agenda, uninformed, misinformed, petty, arrogant, incompetent.

4. Money Isn’t Everything

There’s that old saying in politics: The three most important factors in winning an election are money, money and money.

Well, obviously money does matter. When combined with incumbency, of course, money is and always will be a huge political force.

But money isn’t everything.

McCain was the least-funded major candidate. Yet he easily will win the nomination.

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