This weekâ€™s Rasmussen Reports Republican primary poll update finds the momentum continuing to grow for Fred Thompson. Thompson reached the highest number for any Republican candidate since June last week, and he now leads Rudy Giuliani 28%-19%. The news is all good for Thompson as he finally got over the 25% hump for the first time since July 3. The Thompson train is being pulled by the fact that he is seen by many Republican voters as the only true conservative in the top tier.
For Giulani, the news couldnâ€™t be worse. This week marks the first time in the history of the poll that he has been under 20%. While Republican voters like Rudy, his appeal seems to be personal not political. Giuliani would also appear to be more electable than Thompson with the nation at large, but right now this seems not to matter to the 1,000 likely Republican voters who were surveyed. The voters want a red meat conservative, not a Northern moderate, who holds some liberal social positions, and has a private life that could best be considered checkered.
Interestingly, John McCain, at 13%, has taken over third place from Mitt Romney. Since late June, McCain has consistently continued to be in the 10%-13% range. The slide of the Rudy Giuliani campaign now means that McCain finds himself only six points out of second place. With all the struggles that the McCain campaign has had, it is surprising that he is still hanging around. I think that the strongly pro-Iraq war McCain also benefited last week from the mostly positive Petraeus report. Mitt Romney has fallen to fourth at 11%, but this could be a byproduct of Mitt focusing his campaign on the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa.
The only chance for Mitt is to win in the early voting states and hope that the field thins to a three man race very quickly. In a three person race, Romney could pick up support if Thompson falls on his face and Giuliani continues to struggle, but Romneyâ€™s religion will hurt him in the Bible Belt and with evangelical voters. Romney also has little support in the South and West, while Rudy should carry the North. This leaves Romney with no geographic base of support. He is going to need to catch a break or two in order to become a serious contender.
Mike Huckabee is languishing in fifth place with 5%, while Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, and Sam Brownback split 4%, and nineteen percent of those surveyed remain undecided. Unlike the Democratic race, the GOP contest is still wide open. Giuliani may be down this week, but one gaffe by Thompson could have him back on top again. Romney and McCain are still hanging around, and should not be completely counted out. The other candidates canâ€™t seem to make up any ground, and we are inching towards the first votes. In the end, it is still likely that this race will come down to Thompson,Giuliani, and Romney, but it is anybodyâ€™s guess as to who will win.
Jason Easley is the politics editor at www.411mania.com/politics His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.