John McCain has won yet another primary, this time in Wisconsin, which puts him ever closer to officially surpassing the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination. He once again beat the quixotic Mike Huckabee, who Republicans (and sometimes McCain) have started to regard as a nuisance. But that’s a foolish mistake—he’s actually helping McCain.
With every McCain win, the Republican race has an excuse to butt in to cable news’ wall-to-wall coverage of the much-more-intriguing Democratic race. If Huckabee were to drop out, McCain’s victories would be completely empty—and completely unnewsworthy. McCain’s continued triumphs over Huckabee make him look like a winner, which fits into his own personality as a fighter and his campaign’s message that he can beat the Democrat in November and win the war on terror. (That Huckabee is always termed as the “insurgent candidate” is the cherry on top.)
As McCain has evolved into his party’s leader, Huckabee has morphed into the party’s gadfly. As he draws blood from the Republican base, he’s making McCain’s weaknesses explicit, which allows the entire party to rally and heal the wounds. If there’s any time for McCain to address his weaknesses, it’s now, while the Democrats continue to squabble over superdelegates and plagiarism. Plus, McCain is insulated from any real harm since he has the nomination and the party establishment wrapped up. He’s like a Republican Bubble Boy .
Huckabee has often said he’ll continue to soak up the social conservative vote until McCain reaches the magic delegate number of 1,191. While it happens, McCain should be soaking in the wins.