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Romney, Huckabee, and Giuliani All Hope for a McCain Loss in Florida

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While it is possible Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani will all remain in the GOP race regardless of the outcome in Florida on Tuesday (Giuliani has at least stated he won't exit the race), each of these campaigns would benefit greatly from an "Anybody But McCain" victory.

The reason? Each of McCain's challengers are polling very competitively in a handful of Super Tuesday states, with their primary competitor being McCain in almost all of them.

A McCain victory in Florida could very well put the Arizona Senator on top in all but a few of the 21 primaries and caucuses on February 5th. If McCain stumbles and loses Florida (presumably to Mitt Romney), then several Super Tuesday states come into play—benefiting Romney to some extent and Huckabee and Giuliani to a much greater extent.

Looking ahead to Super Tuesday, McCain is poised to win his home state of Arizona (53 delegates) as well as Connecticut (30 delegates)—both states he won in 2000. (Despite its proximity to New York, McCain had a 23-point lead over Giuliani in a Connecticut poll released just 10 days ago). McCain also has a double-digit lead over Romney in a new Research 2000 poll out of Illinois (70 delegates).

Huckabee, however, is set to challenge McCain in several southern Super Tuesday states, but a McCain victory in Florida might just be prove to be too much for the weak-funded former Governor from Arkansas to handle. Huckabee will win his home state of Arkansas (34 delegates), and is currently leading or within a few points of McCain in polls released during the past week in Alabama (48 delegates), Missouri (58 delegates), Georgia (72 delegates) and Tennessee (55 delegates). Huckabee was also polling a few points ahead of McCain in a mid-January survey of GOP-ers from Oklahoma (41 delegates). If McCain is not the 'inevitable candidate' after Florida, southern voters may flock to Huckabee, especially with Fred Thompson out of the race.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani is polling competitively with McCain in his home state of New York (101 delegates) and its neighbor New Jersey (52 delegates). If Giuliani could defend his home field, that would be a big loss for McCain, as the primary is winner-take-all. A McCain win in Florida, or a Giuliani departure from the race would mean a big delegate count for McCain in the Northeast.

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is poised to post wins in his home state of Massachusetts (43 delegates), Colorado (46 delegates), and Utah (36 delegates). He was also polling competitively with Huckabee and Giuliani early in the month in Montana (25 delegates). Since that poll, Romney has proved himself to be a formidable candidate in the mountain states—winning both the Wyoming and Nevada caucuses by wide margins against a field that was largely not well funded enough to launch campaigns in that region.

No recent polls have been conducted in the following Super Tuesday states: Alaska, Delaware, Minnesota, North Dakota, and West Virginia (combining for 144 delegates in total).

That leaves the big prize of California (173 delegates). Momentum coming out of Florida could be quite key here, as McCain's lead over Romney has been just in the single digits in 3 of the last 5 California polls.

If McCain wins Florida, look for approximately two-thirds to three-fourths of the Southern, Midwestern, and Northern states to fall into his column. If he loses, the Republican nominee will not be known after February 5th.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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