There is a bifurcated race in the Republican field. Two candidates vie for the neocon slot, John McCain and Rudi Giuliani. The other 3 vie for the conservative-traditional slot, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson.
In South Carolina, McCain won decisively over Rudi Giuliani, something like 33 percent to less than 4 percent. Huckabee won the conservative slot, 30 percent to Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney at about 15 percent. However, South Carolina voted conservative 2 to 1.
Romney won more delegates in Nevada, so he leads the delegate count overall. We are seeing McCain take the lead for the neocon side of the Republican party. His one real issue is the war on terrorism. But he has trouble identifying this as a war on Islam, just as the neocons do. Thus McCain would lose the war.
On the conservative side, we have a 3 way of Romney, Huckabee and Thompson. Romney leads this overall. Huckabee is second and Thompson third. Huckabee has a hard time going outside the evangelical base. He has tried to shore up his position on immigration with Roy Beck at NumbersUSA. This helps him within and without of the evangelicals.
Rudi’s only real chance is to try to move conservative. If he went to Roy Beck and took a real no legalization pledge, then he might appeal to conservatives. Without that, McCain is likely to eat him.
Romney so far has the best chance to win conservatives and thus be the true heir of Ronald Reagan in that sense. However, Fred Thompson is the truest of the conservatives in the trio vying for the conservative-traditional voters.