Michigan. South Carolina. Nevada. A lot will be decided this week, including whether or not Ron Paul can turn a good showing in Nevada into a media story. My prediction? Nope.

First, on Tuesday the 15th, there’s Michigan:

Arizona Sen. John McCain holds a slim lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney heading into the Republican primary election in Michigan, a new Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll shows.

The survey shows McCain with a 27% to 24% edge over Romney, with Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee trailing with 15% support. McCain, fresh off a 37% to 32% victory in New Hampshire over Romney, is battling the former governor on what is essentially Romney’s home turf, having grown up in the Detroit suburbs while his father, George, was governor of the state in the early 1960s.

To be fair to Romney, other polls show him leading McCain, so this could be a big win for him. God knows he needs it.

Weird thing about Michigan, since it moved its primary up it only is able to give out half the delegates. More on the significance of that later…

Then on Saturday the 19th we see South Carolina:

On the Republican side, Arizona Senator John McCain’s campaign is continuing to gain steam after his win in New Hampshire, says the PPP polling group.

“John McCain is getting a lot more momentum off his victory in New Hampshire than Mike Huckabee got from taking Iowa,” says PPP about its poll results.

According to the poll,
John McCain leads with 28% of the votes;
Mike Huckabee with 21%;
Mitt Romney with 17%;
Fred Thompson with 14%;
Rudy Giuliani with only 5%;
and Ron Paul with 5%.

Huckabee is counting on a strong second place finish here, maybe even a virtual tie. Because if he can make that happen, he could use that bump to go after Florida where he’s polling strongly against the falling Giuliani and the surging McCain.

And on the same day as South Carolina, we find the forgotten Nevada caucuses. Why forgotten? Well, apparently their delegates are non binding. And I guess that means that even if somebody puts in the time and energy to win them, the delegates can move wherever they want.


The sight of several dozen Ron Paul supporters marching up the Strip on Saturday may be about as exciting as it gets among the Republican presidential campaigns in advance of Saturday’s party caucuses in Nevada.

And Paul, a conservative Texas congressman, didn’t even show up for the march and a later rally at appropriately Texas Station that included a Texas hold ’em poker tournament in his honor.

With the party’s poll-leading presidential candidates focusing on Tuesday’s contest in Michigan and on Saturday’s more important Republican caucus in South Carolina, Nevada’s role in the Republican race for the White House has been marginalized.

Yep, Ron Paul could do well in Nevada, but he could also do poorly. The smart money is on him doing just a little better than poorly since everybody else has ignored the state. And sorry Paulites, but if everybody ignores the state, a good finish there really isn’t much to speak of. You have to go head to head in order to claim a substantive victory and get needed media momentum. For proof of this, just look how Wyoming was ignored in the middle of the Iowa and New Hampshire contests. Basically, Duncan Hunter now has more delegates than Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson (NOTE: Thompson got 3 in Wyoming), but nobody cares because he got it (he only got one) in Wyoming.

All in all, McCain’s momentum appears to be looking good, but can Huckabee pull out a surprise? Seems like most of the candidates are underestimating him and after that ridiculous “Gates of Hell” comment (which was a rip from McCain), he may actually GAIN traction among GOPers. Odd, but that’s the feeling I get.

What McCain needs to do this week is win South Carolina and Michigan. If he can do that he can credibly say he’s a national candidate. But if he essentially ties with both Romney and Huckabee in both of those contests, well, the race is going to get even wilder.

Also, this primary schedule is SO screwed up with states moving their dates around and the RNC penalizing this state for doing this or that, it’s honestly hard to make sense of it all. Big states like Michigan have half their delegates removed and Nevada’s caucuses are non binding. WTF? This is the best way to pick a nominee?

In the end, Super Tuesday could solve some of this as a leader emerges but for right now its really anybody’s guess as to how all of this is going to shake out. There are literally five viable candidates for the GOP nomination right now (Romney, McCain, Huckabee, Thompson and Giuliani), and nobody will be dropping out anytime soon, nor should they.

Anybody else sensing a brokered convention?

Politics Big Week For Republicans