While the results of Super Tuesday were not conclusive in that they did not secure the Republican nomination with certainty for any one candidate the trend lines were drawn more strongly and what had before been a likelihood now inches closer to a certainty. Barring some major shift (and this primary season has been filled with them, so anything remains possible) in the first week of September the Republican party will nominate Senator John McCain as its candidate for president. It is hard to imagine a way he can win the general election.
McCain has spent a career antagonizing the Republican base and despite his walking away from Super Tuesday in the catbird's seat the numbers show the trouble to come. Only three in ten conservative votes on Super Tuesday went to McCain. Talk radio, reflecting the dissatisfaction that small percentage represents, spends much of its time lately in full-blown attack mode against the Senator. The number of total Republican voters is dwarfed by the total number of Democrats:
Total votes cast in 21 GOP contests yesterday among McCain, Romney and Huckabee:
McCain: 43.1% (3,611,459)Romney: 35.4% (2,961,834)Huckabee: 21.5% (1,796,729)
For grand totals, vastly more Democrats than Republicans voted yesterday;
Democratic votes for Clinton and Obama: 14,622,822 (63.6%)Republican votes for McCain, Romney and Huckabee: 8,370,022 (36.4%)
Put another way, the Clinton/Obama race drew 76% more voters than the McCain/Romney/Huckabee race.
None of the Republican candidates is exciting Republican voters, certainly not the way Barak Obama and even Hillary Clinton is exciting the Democrats. That fact coupled with McCain's poor showing among conservatives says much about what November will bring for the Party of Lincoln and Reagan.
What to do, then? After the Republican Congress broke faith with the American people, handing over the House and Senate to the Democrats, with the sad spectacle of this nominating process and the coming debacle conservatives are left with one reasonable course of action: We need an extensive period of self-examination and a revival of the kind of energy and devotion to ideas that made the Reagan Administration so dynamic. We need to elect men and women of principle, the kind of men and women who are disgusted with what the Republican Congress had become and to whom the thought of the Gerald Ford/Bob Michel version of republicanism is anathema.
We will spend our time wandering in the desert but if we stick to our principles the future may still be even brighter than the past. Just remember the Republican nominee who followed Gerald Ford was Ronald Reagan.
2012 isn't really that far off. Let's use the time contructively.