The What If? Game.
-- What if Mike Huckabee wins South Carolina instead of John McCain?
My hunch: McCain is crippled, Huckabee beats McCain in Florida but Romney wins the state and is the better funded candidate in a one-on-one battle against Huckabee.
-- What if Romney stays in South Carolina and fights? My hunch: a muddled result with anyone's guess as a winner. Romney is hurt, but McCain gets no boost and Huckabee is helped. Florida result hard to predict.
-- What if Giuliani really made a play for New Hampshire?. My hunch: McCain and Rudy split votes, Romney wins, giving him a boost into South Carolina.
-- What if Romney goes less negative on Huckabee in Iowa? My hunch: press boomlet for Huckabee is smaller, Romney diverts resources to neighboring New Hampshire and South Carolina.
-- What if Fred Thompson really took off last spring?. My hunch: not much air for Mike Huckabee. The battle becomes Romney vs. Fred.
Other than Michigan, very little that has happened in the race so far has helped Mitt Romney. I thought maybe the economic news would play to his strengths. But it did not. At least not enough to win.