Romney lost statewide, as we already knew, but more remarkable is the number of districts he has lost. He lost many of them by thin margins, but that is not much consolation. It appears that he has lost almost all, except the 21st, 49th and 52nd (which he has won) and possibly the 42nd, which is very close and has not finished reporting. 4 for 53 is not what I would call a successful outcome. The 21st is a Republican-held district covering eastern Fresno County; the 42nd is Gary Miller’s district covering Orange and San Bernardino; the 49th is Darrell Issa’s northern San Diego district; the 52nd is Duncan Hunter’s district in San Diego. In the 21st, 49th and 52nd, stalwart Giuliani voters who still backed the mayor saved Romney from losing those districts as well–Giuliani and McCain’s votes together there outnumber Romney’s. “A vote for Giuliani is a vote for Romney”–I wonder why that one never caught on? Meanwhile, some stalwart Thompson voters may have weakened Romney in at least four districts, if you assume that Thompson voters are likely Romney supporters (I am skeptical, but it is possible). There is no way to spin this as anything other than a major defeat for Romney, for whom remaining competitive in district-by-district delegate allocation was vital.
Remarkably, Huckabee only got 10% in Hunter’s district, while he received as much as 16% in the Democratic 43rd and 16% again in the 21st that Romney has won (as clear a sign that Huckabee is not siphoning off Romney votes as you can hope to find in California). The pattern from the 21st seems to keep recurring in many of the other districts: where Huckabee scores well, McCain wins by smaller margins or fails to win and his share of the vote decreases, and where Huckabee is weaker McCain’s margins and share of the vote increase. That is not true in every case, but this is what happened in many of the districts.
Looking at the race nationally, I wonder when the anti-McCain movement figures will be sending a thank you note to Huckabee for keeping the race open for another couple of weeks. Had McCain won the states Huckabee took last night, his lead would be almost insurmountable now. As it is, there is still an outside chance of fighting on if McCain’s rivals were so inclined.