Forget who’s going to win. It’s just as fun to figure out who’s going to drop out. We’ve seen two candidates bail since our last death watch , and one more is likely to go tonight.
Chris Dodd and Joe Biden: Fittingly, their candidacies are buried next to one another in Iowa. Your legacies are
Dead on arrival
Bill Richardson: He wants to stay in the race until we get to the West in February, but it’s just not possible. He’s polling poorly in Nevada, where the New Mexico governor should be doing well, and every fourth-place finish only reinforces the idea that a vote for Richardson is a wasted vote. Plus, he ruined all of his Hillary Clinton VP karma by maybe/maybe not forming a last-minute pseudo-deal with Barack Obama in Iowa. Look for a concession speech tonight or tomorrow.
On life support
John McCain: Anything other than first is going to be a disaster. Not withdrawal-worthy, but a disaster nonetheless. All of the media attention will evaporate, the money will dry up, and the pundits will blame it all on immigration. ( Sound familiar? )
Mitt Romney: Romney won’t drop out tonight, but he’s all-but-done if he doesn’t hit expectations in New Hampshire. To do so, he needs to grab more Republicans than McCain and hope he comes in first or a close second because McCain grabbed more independents. From there, his campaign can spin the results to suggest Romney is the real conservative draw and that McCain’s support is from people who aren’t true Republicans. Then he has to hope nobody realizes that his independent draw means McCain is the most electable in November. Yeah, it’s looking bleak.
Dennis Kucinich: If his sticking around means more Viggo Mortensen sightings , count us in.
Mike Gravel: If his sticking around means more inappropriate drug comments, count us in. Per the Chicago Tribune , ” ‘I’m sure a lot of you have tripped out on alcohol,’ Gravel told the students. ‘It’s a lot safer to do it on marijuana.’ ”
Duncan Hunter: We’ve said all we needed to say already.
Not going anywhere
Hillary Clinton: Drudge is full of it.
John Edwards: On a conference call with senior Edwards staffers yesterday, it was very clear he’s not leaving any time soon. ( He’s said he’ll stay in through the convention. ) It sounded like he’s playing chicken with Hillary Clinton, waiting for her to drop out so he can get Obama one-on-one. He may get his wish if Clinton skips South Carolina .
Barack Obama: Oprah must be so proud.
Mike Huckabee: The stakes are surprisingly low for Huckabee tonight. His Iowa momentum is relatively insulated from a fourth-place finish. A third-place finish ahead of Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul would be a huge boost and would make him the co-front-runner with McCain in South Carolina.
Rudy Giuliani: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Yet, we can’t seem to get rid of them. Giuliani, as everybody has said ad nausem , is in this through Feb. 5.
Ron Paul: His appearance on Jay Leno last night suggests his priorities are elsewhere. Even if he finishes third in New Hampshire (a real possibility), this still feels like a practice run for a third-party run .
Fred Thompson: He’s going to South Carolina. Sigh. Meanwhile, for all of you Fringe devotees , pay attention to the bottom of the returns tonight. It’s possible all of the fringe candidates combined will get more votes than Thompson in New Hampshire.