The Marathon Is Becoming A Sprint

Thirty Five days from today, Iowa voters will caucus and the 2008 Presidential primary season will start. Five days later, New Hampshire will hold it’s primary earlier in the year than ever before. And, then, four weeks later, 20 states will hold primaries on what some pundits are referring to as Super Duper Tuesday. By the time Super Tuesday is over, more than 50% of the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination will have been chosen and it’s likely that the race will have narrowed to two, maybe three, candidates who have a realistic chance of winning the nomination.

So where does the race stand today ?

If you look at the national polls, Giuliani still leads but Romney is moving up in his rearview mirror:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows Rudy Giuliani with 24% support in the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination. Four candidates are closely bunched in a battle for second place nationally–Mitt Romney is supported by 15% John McCain by 14%, Mike Huckabee at 12% and Fred Thompson at 11%. Ron Paul’s attracts 5% of Likely Republican Primary voters nationwide and no other Republican candidate reaches 2%

Granted, Rasmussen is only one poll, but it’s the most recent one released and it appears to be consistent with other polls released to date.

In Iowa, it’s a slightly different story. Romney has been in the lead for the past several months, but a guy named Mike Huckabee has been sneaking up and may have passed him:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the Iowa caucus finds former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with 28% of the vote, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 25% support, and everyone else far behind. National frontrunner Rudy Giuliani gets just 12% of the vote in Iowa at this time while former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson is the only other candidate in double digits at 11%

Polling in Iowa has traditionally been difficult, but this Rasmussen poll is consistent with other Iowa polls and consistent with something we’ve seen since August —- for better or worse, Mike Huckabee is poised to do well in Iowa.

In New Hampshire the results look like this

  1. Romney — 34%
  2. Giuliani — 20%
  3. McCain — 13%
  4. Paul — 8%
  5. Huckabee — 7%
  6. Thompson — 2%

Giuliani is apparently planning to make a push in New Hampshire, but its unclear that it would be enough to make up for a lead that Romney has consistently maintained for months. The more interesting question will be — what happens to Romney if Huckabee beats him in Iowa ? My guess is that some number of Romney voters will look elsewhere.

Finally, there’s the Super Tuesday states:

In states holding Primaries or Caucuses on February 5, the races for the Republican and Democratic Presidential nominations look broadly similar to the competition on a national level.

In the race for the Republican Presidential nomination, Rudy Giuliani attracts 27% in the February 5 states and holds a double digit lead. Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thomson and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee are tied for second with 14% support. Arizona Senator John McCain is close behind at 11% while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney earns the vote from 10% of Likely Primary Voters in these states. Texas Congressman Ron Paul is supported by 4%

Obviously, this is an average of results from 20 states and each state holds its own primary but it shows something very interesting. While Giuliani remains in the lead, the principal challenge in these primarily southern and western states comes not from  Mitt Romney, but from Mike Huckabee, the guy who nobody thought would amount to anything. As much as it pains me to admit it, his campaign isn’t going away anytime soon.

Based on the above, here’s my entirely unscientific prediction of where things will stand on February 6, 2008 in terms of the race for delegates:

  • In first place, though perhaps not by a large margin —- Rudy Giuliani.
  • In second place —- Mike Huckabee
  • Close behind in third —- Mitt Romney
  • Paul, McCain, and Thompson (if he’s still in the race) will make up the rest of the pack

Feel free to link to this article on February 7th if I’m proven to be wrong.

  • Greg

    I predict that if Giuliani finishes behind Paul and/or McCain in New Hampshire, he’s done. I think McCain will see a surge of support again after last night’s performance in the debate.

    I predict going into Super Tuesday it will be (Romney, McCain, Giuliani, Huckabee, Paul, Thompson)

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    You managed to present your opinion without any blatant spin or fallacy. Thank you.

  • http://publiusendures.blogspot.com Mark

    Good analysis, but…
    Super Tuesday really isn’t primarily southern and western states. You have to keep in mind that it has pretty much all of Giuliani’s strongholds, where his support is likely at 45-50%, maybe higher: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. I’d also expect him to have a high percentage in Illinois and Delaware. Mass., by the way, also goes that day, as does California (which is a bit different than the rest of the West). Sure, the majority of states going are southern and western, but you should remember that the majority of states period are southern and western. Super Tuesday is thus fairly well-balanced in terms of regions.

    One other thing: Giuliani is in a tight race in Michigan and Nevada (which should see a good turnout for Romney since there’s a lot of Mormons there), and is competing with Ron Paul at the bottom in SC. It’s possible that Giuliani will be looking very weak going into the Florida primary- that primary may wind up being his “line in the sand.” Come Super Tuesday, you could see those numbers shift like crazy.

  • Trent K

    Looks like the MSM marching orders involve promoting Huckabee endlessly. Ron Paul had 2-3 questions and limited time. He still crushed them all (how come every article forgets to include his comeback to McCain which mentioned that Ron Paul gets more Military Contributions than any other candidate?). Mitt is dead after desecrating the Confederate flag. Many Southerns died under that flag. Unfortunately it took segregationist Governor Wallace to reveal the truth that “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between” Republicans and Democrats. The Democrats willingly went along with the War in Iraq, suspension of Habeas Corpus, detaining protesters, banning books like “America Deceived’ from Amazon, warrant-less wiretapping and refusing to investigate 9/11 properly. They are both guilty of treason.
    Support Dr. Ron Paul and save this great nation.
    Last link (before Google Books bends to gov’t Will and drops the title):
    http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?&isbn=0-595-38523-0

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Mark,

    You are correct. I guess I still think of Super Tuesday as a Southern thing.

    The interesting thing is that two of the states you mention — New Jersey and California — are very strongly pro-Giuliani.

  • TanGeng

    Hmmm,

    I don’t think Romney’s going to hold up. He’s really soft in support. I’d think that he’s pretty much finished. If 30 million dollars can’t get you enough of a cushion of support, I don’t know what will give him solid support.

    Huckabee and Giuliani are the two frontrunners. McCain and Paul are the possible upsets. How strange it is that Giuliani and Huckabee are represent diverging factions from the Republican Base. Huckabee and Giuliani are really really different from one another.

    I’m going to say that Huckabee gets the majority because of the Social Con strength. He’s followed by Giuliani. Thompson should pack it in. McCain and Paul will continue to make their statements to the American public. But no one Republican is going to have the nomination wrapped up. It’s going to be chaos.

  • TanGeng

    Oops misspoke. Huckabee is going to get a plurality. No one will have a majority.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    The GOP ticket will probably be Giuliani-Huckabee or even Huckabee at the top.

  • TanGeng

    Kevin,

    I don’t think so. The Giuliani-Huckabee or the Huckabee-Giuliani ticket is dysfunctional. The Social-Cons don’t like Giuliani. The free marketers don’t like Huckabee. It’d send a lot of mixed messaged and probably convince more people to stay home.

    And I hate both of them.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Trent,

    I didn’t like much of what Romney said last night, but he was right on the Confederate flag.

  • Lost_In_Translation

    Kevin,

    Giuliani-Huckabee would definitely lose to the Clinton machine and I wouldn’t be sure whether to gloat or cry.

  • http://www.freedomdemocrats.org/ FreedomDemocrat

    Giuliani needs a Southern, social conservative on the ticket with him. Huckabee may just manage to raise his media profile enough to practically force Giuliani into picking him, much as Edwards did to Kerry, but that’s not a sure bet. Governors Barbour and Perdue are more likely.