Three things no one's discussed just yet…
Paul's Votes. There weren't many of them. This was never going to be one of Paul's best states, but he polled as high as 7 percent over the last month and wound up with only 3 percent of the vote. That made for his first dead-last showing, and now that Giuliani and Fred are both out, he's polling last in most of the big Super Tuesday states.
Still, the campaign is grinning about Rudy's exit. "It's gratifying to beat Giuliani," said Paul spokesman Jesse Benton. In Florida, he said, "we spread our message and let the other guys beat each other up."
Paul has the money to stay around: His campaign has bought ads in Arkansas and Tennessee, there are campaign appearances scheduled in Georgia, there are organizers working in Minnesota and and rules that help him in Alaska and Montana. The campaign also feels good about North Dakota and Colorado. But the tightening of the Romney-McCain race isn't good for him, nor are closed primaries. He's going to max out his vote in contests where independents can cast ballots and in states where the perception is that one candidate is already far enough ahead to cast a protest vote.
Clinton's Calvinball. It didn't work. Here's the short version of the Democrats' controversy:
The state governments of Michigan and Florida moved their primaries into January, defying a Democratic rule that allowed only New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina to have January primaries. The truant states were punished by being stripped of their delegates. Edwards and Obama pulled their names from Michigan's ballot; Hillary didn't. Edwards, Obama and Hillary signed a pledge not to campaign in Florida.
In the buildup to South Carolina—which looked like a sure loss—the Clinton campaign started bragging about a coming win in Florida. They complained that an Obama ad, which was running on national cable channels, was already airing in the state, and that this meant Obama was flouting the rules. They announced that Hillary would fundraise in the state before January 29 (the pledge allowed this) and that she'd be there on primary night to accept her victory. And they released this statement from Hillary herself:
I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan.
So, basically, she welshed. Florida voters who were paying attention to the Democratic race—about 1.5 million of them, as it turned out—heard her promise to count their votes. Clinton planned a victory rally in the state to capitalize on the last sure thing before Super Tuesday. Polls showed her up by 20 and… she won by 17, with almost exactly 50 percent of the vote. She won 46 of 67 counties, which sounds impressive until you realize that Obama won all but two counties in hard-fought South Carolina. And the exit polls give a hint of what would have happened if they'd actually had to campaign: Obama won among voters who decided over the last week, 37 to 34.
Clinton still won, and Obama had to cede two states where black voters made up about 20 percent of the electorate. But between the anger she stoked in the pundit class (the liberal blogs are practically boiling over about this) and the slippage revealed by the exit polls, this looks like a bad move by Clinton.
Huckabee's Evangelicals. He only won 29 percent of them, tied with Romney and a point behind McCain.