McCain Wins—Because of Tancredo?

NEWS: McCain is projected to win New Hampshire on the Republican side, but it’s unclear by how much.

An initial thought: Is this because Tom Tancredo dropped out of the race on December 20 ? Without Tancredo, McCain hasn’t had an uber, uber hardliner pushing the conversation on the right during the campaign.  Remember, McCain’s chief weakness is his relatively tame stance on immigration, something that Mitt Romney harped on over and over this weekend at debates.

But notice what happened at the ABC debate. None of the other candidates rallied to Romney’s side when he was hammering McCain. Instead, they turned on Romney and started attacking him, leaving McCain to grin in the void.

Something tells me that Tancredo wouldn’t have let McCain off the hook. Instead, he’d link everything back to the border and demonstrate that McCain can never out-Tancredo Tancredo. The pundits keep waiting for the immigration-minded voters to rise up against McCain. But without a fringe candidate like Tancredo rallying the troops, it may never happen.