Today brings news that the major candidates in both the Republican and Democratic presidential races are down to two (on principle, I refuse to apply the label “major” to Mike Huckabee, who has less than $3 million in the bank). It is so odd when you consider where we were only a couple of months ago, before the primaries were actually underway. Giuliani seemed like a near-unstoppable juggernaut and McCain was nearly out of money and reportedly close to calling it quits. Now in bizzaro politics world, McCain is the favorite, and Giuliani has (or later today will) dropped out. I don’t think that Edwards’ failure to make it any further is much of a surprise on the Democratic side, at least in a year when he is going up against two very well-funded and popular candidates.
I have to humbly confess that Romney has made it farther than I ever thought possible, but his days, too, are numbered. His ability in fundraising and his own massive fortune will probably allow his campaign to sputter on far longer than the point of its political viability. In part, I attribute his unanticipated (by me) success to the big money he has been playing with. Huckabee is the exact opposite- running on faith and hope rather than one money. Common sense would dictate a swift exit in the next couple of days, but come on, when was the last time that people like Huckabee operated on common sense? The rancor between McCain and Romney (as between Romney and EVERY Republican candidate) probably keeps him out of a VP spot, which at this point would be his best shot at the presidency, since McCain is “exceedingly” OLD and “about to go the way of all the earth.”
At this point, given the choices available, I am still not likely to vote for Romney, should McCain die, say, tomorrow. But I hope that he makes a race out of it for at least the next couple of months. It is probably wishful thinking, especially if he gets the point where he has to start pouring more and more of his own money into a perceived losing campaign. Nevertheless, keeping a race going on the Republican side keeps McCain focused on his near rivals rather than on the general campaign (both in terms of fundraising and rhetoric). Since the Democratic campaign will likely go down to the wire, even into late spring, giving the eventual victor a brief time to switch gears, an irrationally prolonged Romney campaign means advantage: Democrats. Where do Mormon Republicans stand on that?
On the other side of the coin, succession in the Presidency of the Church is virtually certain. There have been no elections, no ads, no primaries or caucuses. We feel confident in our leaders’ abilities and assured that no radical disruption, for better or worse, is likely to upset the equilibrium that we current enjoy.