The Huckabee-McCain choice is basically a choice between third-degree burns and skin cancer, but there's some pleasure to be derived from watching the two go at it. Thus, the Survey USA polls of Virginia—the last Southern state to hold a primary until Mississippi goes next month. On February 8, before the Huckabee wins in Kansas and Louisiana, McCain led Huckabee 57-25, Ron Paul bringing up the rear with 9 percent. Today it looks like the McCain bounce from Romney's exit is already gone: McCain leads 48-37. In 72 hours the gap has shrunk by 21 points.
I'm still expecting McCain to win and for any win to be covered as a Caesarian triumph, but this is the state he blew in 2000 by attacking (correctly, of course) Jerry Falwell as an "agent of intolerance" when he should have been racking up votes in the Tidewater region. McCain famously knuckled under to Falwell in 2006, giving the commencement speech at Liberty University, but why should religious right voters be convinced by that when they can vote for Huckabee? Why should protest voters in the Beltway go for McCain at all?
The Capital Region (VA-MD-DC) Ron Paul organizers have been working this turf for a while, but if they're going to become part of this story it'll be because they help drive McCain's total vote under 50 percent.