Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’?

If you look at the topline poll numbers on the Republican side, it looks like John McCain is headed to a much more commanding showing in tonight’s Potomac Primary than he did over the weekend. But there’s at least a chance that Mike Huckabee could knock McCain for a loop in Virginia.

Remember that the last poll of Washington state had McCain almost 30 points over Huckabee. And McCain only managed to ‘win’ by less than 2 points with the help of Boss Esser’s creative vote counting.

Now let’s look at some polling from Virginia. SurveyUSA has polled the state three times in the last week.

Feb. 7th: McCain 45%, Romney 22%, Huckabee 20%

Feb. 8th: McCain 57%, Huckabee 27%

Feb. 11th: McCain 48%, Huckabee 37%

As you can see, over the weekend, McCain dropped a net -9 and Huckabee went up a net +10. Not bad for a couple days.

It’s still a comfortable margin for McCain. But you also have to think about the comparative motivation of potential McCain and Huckabee voters. My hunch is that McCain is more accepted than embraced by most Republican voters, certainly primary voters. And at this point, to them, the race is over. McCain’s got it. So how many of them are going to come out and vote for a foregone conclusion? On the other hand, if you’re a Huckabee supporter at this point it must mean you’re really not crazy about John McCain. Why else would you be holding out for a guy who seems almost certain not to be the nominee in the face of the guy who almost certainly will be.

There’s obviously a lot of speculation and inference here. But I think it’s reasonable to think that the Huckabee voters have a lot more motivation to show up and make their point at the polls on Tuesday than the McCain voters do. After all, for the McCain voters, what is it? Gotta turn out tomorrow to prevent McCain from being humiliated by Huck!!!

A bit too much of a bank shot to get a mass of voters too jazzed up. So with that and a quickly tightening race, there’s at least enough of a chance of an upset to make the Republican side of the race interesting.

(ed.note: Two other polls of this race have been released over the last week. One by the chronically inaccurate ARG has it McCain 54%, Huckabee 32% and the respected Mason-Dixon has it McCain 55%, Huckabee 27%)

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