THE PLANK JANUARY 2, 2008
. . . McCain has pulled into a 29-29 tie with Romney, according to a new CNN/WMUR poll. (The same poll finds Hillary with a 4 point lead over Obama.) In the piece I wrote on McCain for the current print issue, I was bullish on his chances to win New Hampshire but skeptical that a win there could propel him to the nomination. I'd like to, uh, revise my remarks.
If McCain finishes third in Iowa and then wins New Hampshire, he's going to be the story on the GOP side, and he's going to have serious momentum going into South Carolina. South Carolina, of course, is where McCain's campaign came undone in 2000, as the state's famously vicious political establishment tore him to pieces on behalf of Bush. But, ironically, much of the South Carolina political establishment appears to be in McCain's corner this time. "One of the benefits of having been the perceived frontrunner for a period was we locked up a lot of people down there," McCain adviser Mark Salter told me. And if that establishment can do to Romney or Huckabee what it did to McCain eight years ago, I don't think McCain is going to be so honorable that he'll protest.
In other words, I still think McCain getting the nomination is more unlikely than not, but not nearly as unlikely as I did two weeks ago.