McCain was keen to stress that this was a Republican only primary in his victory speech. Romney won the pro-Bush Republican vote; McCain won Republican voters who are critical of the President.
The excellent Jay Cost makes a very interesting point about this: that this at odds with McCain's championing of the surge in Iraq and Romney's running as a pro-change outsider, but that it chimes with who voters believe the candidates really are.
I think one reason has to do with the long memories of voters. McCain's reputation as an anti-Bush maverick is still quite ingrained in their minds .... There is a lesson in all of this about the limitations of political campaigns. They only do so much to shape the thinking of the American voter. Those who have held opinions about political figures for a long time are not going to be easily disabused of them, despite how many political ads are run or adjustments in messaging are made. I think this hints at a mistake the Romney campaign made - it pivoted too late to a message about fixing Washington.
There is a message in there for Hillary Clinton too.
I don't agree with all of John Edwards' positions - but it was great to see a credible Presidential candidate putting poverty in the US absolutely front and centre of a major campaign.
What happens to John Edwards' supporters is going to be a crucial factor in the Obama-Clinton race, and it is very difficult to call. The candidate was siding with Obama - as 'change' versus the 'status quo' - but the demographics of the Edwards vote could favour Hillary Clinton.
Rudy Giuliani's failed bid will be taught in campaign school as an example of how to get everything wrong. Clearly, it was a mega-flop, and the strategy was too clever by half.
But I am not sure all of the criticism of a miscalculated campaign strategy is fully merited. To argue that Giuliani's later states strategy was the problem depends upon the counter-factual argument that he could have been much better placed had he fought seriously in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan. How well could he have done at best? Would he have gone into Florida with a better shot if he'd somehow squeaked a third place somewhere?
Still, the 2008 race offered the best possible opportunity for this unorthodox approach. And even this race could not stay open enough. It will not be a strategy that anybody will try again.
Even if Giuliani ran the wrong campaign, perhaps the real lesson is a more fundamental one. If you are a pro-life New Yorker, don't make a serious bid for the Republican nomination.