McCain Dominates But Doesn't Clinch Party Base

Solidifies frontrunner status, shows weakness with the party's right
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2008 6:16 AM CST
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., greets supporters at a Super Tuesday presidential primary election night party Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – With twice as many delegates as Huckabee and Romney combined, John McCain emerged last night as the unquestioned leader in the GOP race. “Tonight I think we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican party frontrunner," he told supporters gleefully. But his losses to Huckabee and Romney in the South and the Bible Belt, along with exit poll results, exposed real weakness with the party's base, Time reports

Even in his home state of Arizona, McCain lost voters who describe themselves as  conservatives to Mitt Romney 47%-36%. McCain will test his ability to win over the right with a key appearance tomorrow at the skeptical Conservative Political Action Committee' annual conference in Washington—an event he skipped last year. “It’s starting to crystallize around John McCain,” a top GOP consultant told the Kansas City Star.