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
- Romney — 34%
- Giuliani — 20%
- McCain — 13%
- Paul — 8%
- Huckabee — 7%
- 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.