Commentary Magazine


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Margins of Victory

Most commentators gave McCain a hard time last time for his decision to go campaign in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts. However, the final “score” shows that he lost the state only 51-41 percent, an impressive showing in the his opponent’s backyard. (Despite a ludicrously inaccurate exit poll showing a tied race, McCain won his own state 48-34 percent.) The notion that California had tightened or that McCain’s lead there was ever in peril appears to have been nothing more than wishful thinking by the Romney forces. McCain, with over 90 percent of the vote counted, leads there 42 percent – 33 percent. (At some point for fun look at the state pre-election polling and see how awful some of it was. Zogby, for example, had Romney up 7 percent in California in its last poll. Other polling outfits, like Mason-Dixon, lived up to their good reputations.)

The magnitude of the California victory is startling. This map shows that in a closed primary, all Republican contest in the country’s largest state, where Romney poured in millions of dollars (perhaps his last), McCain won big, and won everywhere.

Now, there is a good argument that McCain should have spent more time in the South and that he vastly underestimated Huckabee’s ability to win states. It may have been that McCain lacked the internal polling that Romney enjoyed. If so, he now will have plenty of resources to get himself a decent pollster and plan his time accordingly.