A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to McCain's Coronation

McCain is now going to have to move to the right, when he wants to move to the center.
The results on Super Tuesday removed all doubt about who would win the Republican presidential nomination -- John McCain's lead was insurmountable. Senators who hate him began endorsing him, Mitt Romney was forced from the race, and the Arizona senator was suddenly free to shift his emphasis to a general-election strategy. It was a done deal.

Realistically, it probably still is, but it's worth considering just how embarrassing yesterday's GOP results were for the presumptive nominee. It was as if Republican voters in three states -- one in the South, one in the West, and one in the Plains -- collectively got together to smack McCain in the face.

Louisiana-- Huckabee 43%, McCain 42%, Romney 6%, Paul 5%

Kansas -- Huckabee 60%, McCain 24%, Paul 11%, Romney 3%

Washington (with 87% of the precincts reporting) -- McCain 26%, Huckabee 24%, Paul 21%, Romney 17%

Sure, McCain wasn't exactly campaigning aggressively in these states -- neither was Huckabee or Paul -- but the obvious frontrunner for the nomination probably expected to have at least a little more support from the party faithful. In Kansas, McCain had Sam Brownback touting his campaign, but that didn't prevent a 36-point drubbing.

For that matter, Washington was supposed to be an easy one for McCain; Huckabee had few built-in advantages here. And yet, McCain apparently won a squeaker. (In what is, in effect, a two-person race, the frontrunner barely won a quarter of the vote. Ouch.)

In response to the poor showing, a campaign spokesperson said last night, "John McCain is the presumptive nominee in this race and our path forward is unchanged by today's results."

That's probably right, but is still has to sting.
Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.
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