The Caucuses and Primary this weekend provided no real insight to what is going on so far, but then did fill in some details.
Nevada: "Romney Rolls and Obama comes in 2nd but 1st in Delegates...?
Mitt Romney was the only GOP candidate to campaign heavily (if you could even call it that) in Nevada. This fact, coupled with the large population of people who are members of the LDS church gave Romney a very wide margin of victory, 37%. Ron Paul came in a distant 2nd with 14%(double digits just as was predicted here). Paul took something like 63% of the independent vote completely killing McCain's chances of a 2nd place finish to brag about. Romney's win gave him a nice lead in the delegate count, although it can be said that they are no matter this early in the race. The 1st primaries/caucuses serve more as momentum boosters and a test to see who can organize well.
Hillary Clinton's defeat is proof that she still has an advantage, at least organizationally. There was much bally-hoo made about Obama getting the Culinary Worker's Union endorsement, just as much was made of the fact that it gives those workers, who work in the Casinos of Las Vegas, being able to caucus in their workplace making it easier for them to attend. It needs to be said that these were considered "At-Large" caucus sights (read: More Important). Based on this the Clintons (Teachers Union who supported Clinton) complained and eventually there was actually a lawsuit about it, which didn't amount to anything. What is really interesting about this caucus was that in these "at-large" caucuses Hillary did very well. In fact she won Clark County, the County containing Las Vegas and 1.8 million of the 2.5 million that inhabit Nevada. She won the county 53%-39% and while that was happening Obama was winning the majority of all the other counties in the state. This leads up to the fact that Obama took more delegates away from Nevada, 13, than Clinton did, 12. As it has been happening the older you were the more likely it was you voted for Hillary and the opposite was true for Obama. Obama took the black vote by a large margin; he had 83% of their vote. If that carries on into South Carolina Obama and Clinton could each have 2 of the 1st 4 Primary/Caucus states on their way into Florida as well as Super Tuesday on Feb 5th.
South Carolina: McCain as a front-runner? Rudy still has a chance at this thing.
John McCain defeated Mike Huckabee in what could have been a loser goes home state. McCain beat Huckabee by 3% 33-30. The close race probably keeps Hukabee in the race but he will need a strong showing in Florida if he really wants to continue, he is running out of money. Fred Thompson came in a distant 3rd at 16% followed by Romney who didn’t campaign hard in South Carolina with 15%. McCain got 27% of the Evangelical vote, which is pretty surprising if you ask me. That is a nice chuck of that demographic. Some people are calling this victory for McCain proof that he can win a state that has a lot of conservative voters, he won 31% of Republicans to Huckabee's 32%. McCain still took the Independent vote however.
So John McCain and Mitt Romney seem to be sitting at the top of the GOP hill for at least this week. Florida is a big piece of the Republican puzzle and it seems that we will know a lot more after the primary in the Sunshine State. Rudy Giuliani is currently 2nd in Florida according to the Real Clear Politics poll. McCain leads with 23% followed by Rudy with 20%, Romney and Huckabee with 19% and 17% respectively. I could see Romney's numbers going up a bit after his Nevada win as well as McCain's and it will be up to Rudy to play it HUGE down in Florida if he wants any chance and getting the nomination. I will say this right here and now. If Rudy does not win or get at least 25% of the vote he will not win the nomination. Period. End of story. We'll find out in 8 short days.