Where The Republican Race Is Now

John McCain is well on his way to the nomination.

But McCain continues to have problems with conservatives, even in his own state of Arizona. His performance in most of the states Tuesday night among self-identified conservatives was abysmal. But he won among mainstream/centrist and liberal Republicans, and the share of the conservative vote in the larger states wasn’t large enough. Is it shrinking?

Where will conservatives turn in a Huckabee v. McCain race? Both have, if you listen to talk radio, disqualifying qualities.

Arguably, they distrust McCain and think Huckabee is wrong on the issues.

Romney faces an enormous challenge. Conservatives heard him – they did not listen to him. There is no reason why, right now, they’ll start to listen to him. If Romney stays in… he will try to game the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this Thursday and use this as a pretext to stay in. If he stays in, he could win Texas… but…

Huckabee’s challenge is clear: he will not win the Republican race if he does not broaden his appeal. McCain can win the Republican race without broadening his appeal.

Attributes seem to matter more than issues in the Republican Party. A lot of Republicans seem to be more comfortable with McCain because they know where he stands .…a lot of Republicans like Romney…. And a lot of Republicans are suspicious of Romney’s motives. Romney’s lead among economic conservatives is not as big as McCain’s lead among national security conservatives; neither’s lead are as big as Huckabee’s lead among values voters.

In one way, McCain can thank Rudy Giuliani for his eventual nomination. Giuliani was strong enough as a person to drop out and endorse, therefore not splitting moderates and independents. McCain’s biggest win is New Jersey, and his wins in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are larger than his margin in Arizona. Giuliani’s votes in California and Illinois also helped McCain