There is no question about it. Ron Paul absolutely smoked Rudolph Giuliani and Fred Thompson in Michigan, both for the second time. In fact, if you add Giuliani's votes to Thompson's the sum will be in the neighborhood of Ron Paul's total. All this Paul achieved with minimal campaigning in Michigan. Nonetheless, all three candidates put together wouldn't amount to a plurality of votes. Almost everything went to Romney, McCain, and Huckabee. Here's what this means:
The Republican Party is no longer conservative. Ron Paul and Fred Thompson are the only two small government conservatives in the race and they are plenty behind in the polls. Paul is the antiwar conservative and Thompson is pro-Iraq War. Paul takes his "marching orders from the Constitution" and Thompson only deviates in case of war. Paul abhors budget deficits and Thompson abhors them except for war.
The Republican Party is no longer neoconservative. Giuliani is most ostensibly influenced by the neoconservatives, having recruited 'Axis of Evil' speechwriter, Richard Perle's coauthor, and Iraq War apologist, Mr. David Frum. Giuliani is doing horribly in the early states. Maybe his Florida-surprise strategy will pay off, but I think he's languishing in the polls and votes because America decided it doesn't need a daddy to protect it from terrorists.
The Republican Party is no longer theoconservative. Republicans have always loved Jesus, but the evangelical "base" has never been more than 30% of Republican votes. Baptist Minister Mike Huckabee had a strong showing in Iowa, but it isn't lasting. Anyway, if he wins, that will prove my final point:
The Republican Party is liberal. With Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee drawing all the votes, the Party has become as liberal as Liberace. For years, Democrats wondered aloud how they could find liberal preachers, war heroes, and all-around handsome bastards. Now the Republicans have all three. Unfortunately for the Democrats, they'll use their liberal view of governmental powers to advance a completely right-wing agenda. McCain says he'll stay in Iraq for 100 years and he doesn't mind restricting trade. Huckabee is a human faith-based initiative. He says he will support a nationwide smoking ban and go drunken sailor on the federal budget. Mitt Romney says whatever you want. They all agree that the President doesn't need congressional approval to do anything.
The triumvirate is broken! Small government Republicans/strict constitutionalists/Goldwater/conservatives/whatever have almost completely left the party. No one trusts the neoconservatives anymore. The holy rollers, who aren't conservative at all, have swung the party into a right-wing progressivism. They say it was good for the goose, so it's good for the gander. Now the Left can only stand in horror as the liberal right forms an unholy alliance with moderate Democrats and go to work on America. It would be hard for them to cry "foul" by invoking constitutionalism now, wouldn't it? Yes, sir, the Left brought this on itself. Just kidding.
Note on Terms Used: It has been brought to my attention that people are confused about my terms: 'liberal', 'progressive', 'conservative', 'right-wing', etc. I mean these terms in their purest, original forms, not the modern perversions. For instance, 'conservatism' and 'progressivism' are methods for approaching governmental powers. A politician who wants to reduce the scope of the governmental powers and strictly adhere to the terms of the Constitution is a conservative. A politician who would interpret the terms of the Constitution broadly and expand the scope of powers is a 'liberal' or a 'progressive'. Neither of these actually describe political positions so much as the method they would go about evaluating the positions.
'Left-wing' and 'right-wing' describe the agendas we're all familiar with. What we call "social conservatism" generally isn't conservative at all because it advances a new agenda and asks the government to pass more laws. It is progressive or liberal, but it is right-wing progressivism. To illustrate: John Kerry is a liberal left-winger and Mike Huckabee is a liberal right-winger.