McCain/Rudy

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We’re finishing up today’s election round-up episode of TPMtv. And the big story is clearly John McCain. On balance, I think I’d still say Romney is the favorite for the nomination, as I’ve been saying for some weeks. But things are moving really quickly. And none of the quick stuff that’s happening is good for Romney.

Newspaper endorsements generally don’t amount to much. But what were effectively anti-endorsements from New Hampshire’s two leading newspapers — the Concord Monitor and the Manchester Union-Leader — come at the worst possible time. The liberal and conservative paper both saying, Don’t vote for Romney because he’s too big a phony to be president.

But on McCain, one thread of what’s happening, that’s important not to ignore, is the synergy between McCain’s and Giuliani’s support. We’ve already noted the effective collapse of Giuliani’s numbers. But at least a topline look at those numbers suggests that McCain’s surge is being fed by Rudy’s rapid decline.

And it makes a fair amount of sense. Whatever you think of either guy, both are basing their candidacy on hawkish foreign policy and what counts in a GOP context as centrism on key social issues. In my mind, the profile of each guy’s supporters is pretty similar. (To be clear, no, they’re not explicitly emphasizing this in the primaries. But it’s still a key selling point for each.)

It’s not hard to predict that if McCain gets even third place in Iowa, the airwaves will be dominated for the next five days by stories of his miracle comeback.

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