Rudy's Granite State Blunder

I should have more to say about what went wrong for the Giuliani campaign once Floridians hit the polls; for now, I think this Rich Lowry post is suggestive of one failure in particular:

It's interesting how Romney and Rudy have swapped strategies recently. Initially, before his ads failed in New Hampshire and he pulled out of the early states entirely, Rudy's strategy was to do respectably in the early states. Not necessarily win them, but do well, and maybe win one, and hope that no overwhelming frontrunner emerged, so he could come back in Florida and have his resources come to bear on Feb. 5. That has turned into Romney's approach almost exactly (although he had a stronger finish in Iowa than Rudy ever could have hoped for). As for Rudy, in Florida he has tried a version of what Romney did in Iowa and New Hampshire—invest time and money in building a lead that you hope holds up when all the other candidates show up in earnest. We'll see how that goes, but we know how it worked out for Romney...

Now obviously there was no way that Rudy could have hoped to do as well in the early states as Romney did. But still, Romney's ability to stay in the game despite losses in Iowa and New Hampshire suggests that Rudy might have helped himself much more in the looming battle for Florida by campaigning harder in the early states and keeping himself relevant with some respectable third-place finishes than he did by abandoning the early field and going all out in the Sunshine State. In this light, the Giuliani campaign's decision to give up on New Hampshire in mid-November, after investing heavily there all year, remains particularly baffling to me. At the time, I suggested that Romney's troubles with Huckabee in Iowa afforded Giuliani an opportunity to take a bite out of a weakened Mitt in New Hampshire; instead, he decided to cede the Granite State even before seeing whether Romney emerged bloodied or strengthened from the Caucuses. This might have been understandable if Giuliani had been stuck in the single digits there, but at the time he pulled out he was still polling in the mid-teens, and McCain had just barely inched ahead of him. Maybe Rudy couldn't have improved on those numbers, but just holding steady would have delivered him a respectable third, which might have translated into a more respectable showing in Michigan and South Carolina as well, instead of the sub-Ron Paul finishes he ended up with. But instead, Rudy's camp threw in the towel - almost as if they were so spooked by the media drumbeat about the inevitability of a McCain surge that they decided to just get out of the way and let it happen