Nobody Knows Anything....but, as it happens, no one more so than I.

My predictions tens day out:

The Party of Lincoln:

Romney pulls it out. Huck hangs on for a respectable second place. Fred surprises with a third-place finish and emerges, finally, as a serious candidate.


Wrong. Wrong. Right--kind of, maybe, but--perhaps--not exactly.

Huckabee is much more formidable than I gave him credit for. Note to self: do not underestimate Mike Huckabee again. He has a lot of talent, and he has come to play and not just for the ride. In truth, I don't dislike Huckabee. He is affable and engaging--and those are good qualities. Certainly, he would do no worse as president than Obama or Hillary.

How did he do what he did last night? Christian conservatives helped him greatly in Iowa, where he harnessed a perfect storm of social conservative enthusiasm, personal appeal, and neglect on the part of a field bent on conceding the state to Romney. New Hampshire is not likely to provide the same fertile ground for Huck--but he will undoubtedly receive a bounce there. After New Hampshire, all eyes will turn South, where, like Iowa, he speaks a language God-fearing, America-loving, social conservatives understand. He is likely in this race for the duration.

Having said that, I remain skeptical that he goes all the way. The forces of conservatism are arrayed against him (my previous thoughts on that). This is a tough hill to climb. But no one expected Jimmy Carter to win in 1976 when he faced a similar battle with party regulars and the traditional sources of Democratic orthodoxy. Funny things happen in American politics.

Mitt Romney. He had a lot of money, a great organization, and a great plan--but he had to win Iowa and New Hampshire to generate a groundswell. He did not reach first base. This is extremely problematic for Mitt. He remains viable for a while because of his money and organization, but it is hard to imagine Romney catching fire at this point. Obviously, New Hampshire is do or die for himóbut, even if he wins the Granite State, he faces a hard road from there.

Fred Thompson. He pulled off a surprisingly lackluster and curiously uninspiring third place. He may have, once again, done the minimum to keep himself above water in this race.

One interesting note: if you take Thompson's 13 percent and McCain's 13 percent (as they are, after all, basically the same guy), you get 26 percentónot enough to beat Pastor Mike in "Evangelical-land," but a significant number nevertheless.

What happens to Fred? Beats me. Nothing would surprise me at this point. Amid the rumors circulating that he was planning on withdrawing and joining the "national security senators for McCain" tour, he surged just a bit in Iowa. It is worth noting that his lurch forward occurred while his "ace in the hole," Rush Limbaugh, was on vacation. Rush is on record as extolling Thompson as the only true conservative in the race. This kind of support is not insignificant in the upcoming primaries wherein candidates must court the Republican base, many of whom listen to Rush regularly and admire him greatly. Fred is not deadóbut he continues to need to make his move and show us something. On the other hand, a Thompson-McCain alliance sometime soon certainly would not shock me either.

John McCainís rise from the dead is so remarkable that he deserves his own post--which will be forthcoming. Preview: of the five improbable things that had to happen for McCain to return to viability, two have transpired and, incredibly, the ice seems to be breaking on the other three.

And Rudy illustrates the perils of skipping Iowa. His big-state strategy is not completely dead--but he will be engaged fulltime for the next few weeks making the case that he is still relevant. This is a tough assignment for the former US attorney. As I have written many times in the past, I am a big Rudy fan--but I remain convinced that he is not GOP nominee material. Rudy for AG or DHS.

Bottom Line: The Republican canvass remains a mess. Anything is possible at this point, including a brokered convention and a nominee outside the current contest. We'll see.

But, then again, why would anybody listen to me?