While there were a number of candidates at the start of the Republican Party's primaries in January 2008, the three strongest were John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Whereas the Democrat Party primaries were to go their full distance, the Republican Party was in a position to call a halt to its primary season by the first week of March when John McCain was declared the party's nomination for the November 2008 presidential election. While Senators Obama and Clinton had to focus their attention and spending on themselves (effectively for the next four months), McCain was in a position to start his campaign.
The Republican Iowa primary was overshadowed by Barak Obama's victory over Hilary Clinton. While the media seemed to concentrate on what the Democrats were doing, it seemed to pay less attention to the rise of the Republican winner in Iowa - Mike Huckabee. He had joined the Republican race late but quickly made inroads into the support that many felt would go to Rudy Guiliani, the former mayor of New York. Mitt Romney came second. In New Hampshire, John McCain won with Romney again coming second. The two contests highlighted the policy of Rudy Guiliani - he decided that he would concentrate his resources in the states that had the highest number of delegates (Florida, New York etc) and barely campaigned in Iowa. That he received any support in Iowa was, many felt, a sign of how popular he was and that his time would come when the 'big' states voted.
In the first two states, the media also paid attention to the fact that Romney had spent a great deal of money campaigning in both and only came second in both.
Unlike the Democrats, a far clearer pattern quickly emerged in the Republican camp. Though he got off to a poor start in Iowa, John McCain quickly emerged as the party's strongest candidate. By March 4th, the Republican campaign was over. Mitt Romney had dropped out on February 7th once the results of 'Super-Duper Tuesday' were known. He had won just 242 delegates. On March 4th, Huckabee also withdrew from the contest with just 278 delegates whereas the only viable candidate, McCain, had 1575 delegates. His target had been 1191 delegates.