Two more have dropped out of the GOP presidential race meaning those followers will have to go somewhere. Where do they go and what does it mean for those contenders still duking it out? Back in December, I raised this issue. But now that we're further into the fun, I'll raise it again.
As I've mentioned before, Duncan Hunter, as a candidate, was probably the conservative's conservative, but never seemed to gain traction with anyone (although he did pick up a delegate in Wyoming). His followers are certainly conservatives. Although, the numbers are few, they will most likely end up with Romney. They can't go to Guiliani or McCain. They would most likely have gone to Thompson before he dropped, but now have to choose between Huckabee, who is fast losing ground, and Romney, who is still in the lead. Most, albeit few, will end up with Romney. A few may join Ron Paul.
I've also before stated that although Fred Thompson, longtime friend of McCain, will probably endorse McCain, which will give him some needed support, many Thompson supporters saw Fred as an alternative to Huckabee who was too weak on non-social issues. Now many of those supporters are faced with the same choice as Hunter's supporters. Most of those who don't go to McCain will go to Romney. Huckabee will take the biggest hit on this shift.
Huckabee needs a strong showing in Florida to hang on, but isn't likely to get it. His organization is weak in Florida, and he doesn't seem to be building the excitement he had in Iowa which is certainly a different demographic. Giuliani, who bailed on state after state in order to put what he had left into a big win in Florida, is spent, and he will probably end well behind the pack. The big question still remains what happens to the Huckabeee and/or Giuliani supporters when one or both drop out? I believe they will both split to the remaining frontrunners with Romney ending up with
As in Nevada and Michigan, polling has been underreporting Romney supporters in Florida...until recently. It looks increasingly like Florida will go to Romney. There has been speculation about a possible endorsement from Jeb Bush to one of the candidates. If Jeb endorses anyone, it will be Romney with whom he has had a positive relationship for some time. If that happens, Romney nails it. If not, Romney is on his own with fairly strong momentum.
McCain needs to win this race, or hold his own in a tight matchup in order to stay in the game. A win would be the huge boost that he needs. A big loss would be tough to overcome on Super Tuesday. Romney, likewise, is in a similar situation, but better positioned, it appears.
Unless there are some big surprises next Tuesday, it looks like it will be Romney and McCain as the top picks going into February 5th.