by Todd Beeton, Tue Feb 05, 2008 at 02:55:26 PM EST
If the exit poll numbers are even close to right in the southern states, Mike Huckabee is going to emerge out of February 5th a player. From Stoller:
Huckabee (who already won West Virginia today):
* Alabama: Huckabee 42 percent, McCain 33 percent, Romney 20 percent
* Tennessee: Huckabee 34, McCain 28, Romney 23
* Arkansas: Huckabee 33, McCain 21, Romney 19
* Georgia: Huckabee 34 percent, Romney 31 percent, McCain 30 percent
Despite a lot of talk about a McCain-Huckabee alliance (drink!) word from MSNBC is that the McCain camp is NOT happy about the prospect of the three candidates' essentially splitting the states tonight. The upshot: while Huck splits the anti-McCain vote, it's also a sign that McCain is not able to consolidate the conservative vote and gives Romney more time to become the conservative alternative.
Rachel Maddow just put it well. The story out of tonight:
Timmeh just said it's about bargaining power, I don't know, seems to me it's a matter of buying Romney time for the conservative message to spread throughout the country that McCain is not acceptable.