As I write this, voting is going on in New Hampshire, where McCain is predicted to win narrowly over Romney, with Huckabee, Giuliani and Paul back in the pack and Thompson nowhere to be seen. Dixville Notch, NH has come in with landslide votes for McCain on the Republican side, Obama on the Democrat side... and the two parties perfectly evenly split.
If McCain does -not- win, though, it's all over for him. If Romney finishes worse than second (highly unlikely, but in Dixville Notch he finished behind both Huckabee and Paul, so it's possible), his campaign is essentially over.
On the Democrat side, there are essentially only two tickets out of New Hampshire. If Clinton finishes third (highly unlikely), she's effectively done; if she finishes more than ten points behind, she's fatally wounded. Polls from South Carolina and Nevada show leads for Obama by as much as twenty percentage points- which means even with a second place finish, Clinton will have all she can handle to hold together a self-destructing campaign to Tsunami Tuesday and the New York primaries.
(One final note, re: recent issues about Ron Paul: I'm waiting to see what the New Republic actually posts before I make any firm statements, but I remind my former Libertarian colleagues: this is the man you want to hitch your star to.)
Anyway, with all this happening, now seems as good a time as any to look at John McCain, who might be the only Republican candidate capable of blocking Huckabee tomorrow morning... after coming back from as low as 5% support in national polls after his positions on immigration came to light.
Again, going by these standards:
WAR: Supports permanent and expanded occupation of Iraq. Favors war with Iran. Supports War on Terror. Would expand military. 20%.
SEPARATION OF POWERS: Approves of expanded Presidential power. Supports USA-PATRIOT, FISA. 0%.
HEALTHCARE: No individual mandates. Tort reform. Economize healthcare by new information technology, targeted tax exemptions and credits, etc. Supports de-regulating insurance corporations, buying insurance across state lines. Medicare and Medicaid cuts in favor of private insurance. 30%.
TAXATION AND BUDGET: More tax cuts. Silent on borrowing. Opposes new taxes on Internet, cel phones. Opposes flat tax. Calls for simpler income tax, but also proposes various income tax credits, deductions, etc. Proposes sunset requirements for all Federal programs. Calls for cuts only in "pork barrel projects," expand pretty much everything else. 20%.
CIVIL LIBERTIES: His campaign finance reform act outlawed political speech that mentioned any incumbent's name within sixty days of an election, among many other flaws. Favors censorship of the Internet. Opposes torture, would close Guantanamo, end rendition and black sites. Supports military tribunals over civilian criminal courts. 25%.
IMPEACHMENT: Opposes. 0%.
IMMIGRATION: Supports English as sole official language in USA. Favors amnesty after fines, expanded legal immigration. Supports border fences. Opposes mass round-ups of illegal immigrants. 75%.
TRADE: Supports GATT, WTO, NAFTA. 0%.
ENERGY: Supports nuclear. Supports alt-fuel vehicles. Opposes subsidies for corn-based ethanol and biodiesel. Supports general shift away from oil. 70%.
ENVIRONMENT: Supports active filtering of athmosphere to clean away greenhouse gases. Supports economically affordable solutions to conservation and efficiency. Calls for full compensation for any taking of property for environmental purposes. 100%.
TORT REFORM: Calls for caps on punitive damages. Would increase punishment for frivolous lawsuits. Would provide immunity to doctors who follow all rules and act correctly according to regulations. 30%.
AVERAGE SCORE: 33.6%
GUNS: Supports requirement that privately owned guns be locked up when not in use. Supports background-check requirement for private gun sales, effectively outlawing the transfer of guns from one private individual to another.
IRAQ: Supports indefinite, permanent and expanded occupation of Iraq.
TORTURE: Although decries torture, voted for Military Commissions Act of 2006 giving Bush full power to order torture and to prevent torturers from being prosecuted.
IRAN: Voted to declare Iranian Republican Guard a terrorist group, thereby giving Bush an excuse to attack Iran whenever he wants.
RANKINGS TO DATE
Candidates in italics are not in consideration due to vote-killer positions.
Dennis Kucinich - 40.9%
John McCain - 33.6%
Ron Paul - 28.2%
Rudy Giuliani - 22.3%
Mike Huckabee - 16.9%
Duncan Hunter - 11.8%
Fred Thompson - 11.1%
Next time: Mitt Romney, the last of the Republican field, provided he's still in the race when I sit down to do this next...