If this weekâ€™s Rasmussen Reports Republican primary poll update proves anything, it is that this race is completely unstable and none of the top four or five candidates should be ruled out of contention. Once again this week, Rudy Giuliani has maintained a small lead over Fred Thompson, and still leads Mitt Romney, and John McCain. Giuliani dropped four points from last week, but still leads Thompson 25%-19%. Mitt Romney is seriously challenging Thompson for second. He is now at 15%, which is four points behind Thompson.
John McCain continues to hang around. He is now three points behind Romney and at 12%. However, McCain better watch his back because Mike Huckabee has been slowly climbing in this poll and is now sitting at 8%. A win in Iowa by Huckabee could propel him into contender status, but Huckabee still has no money and would have to rely on socially conservative Republicans to fuel his support. I think Giulianiâ€™s 29% last week was a bit of an aberration. Giuliani has been pulling in the 19%-23% range for three months now, so 25% is just a tad above his normal range. Giuliani is still far from a consensus frontrunner, but so far only Thompson has shown the ability to challenge him in this poll.
Mitt Romney has settled into a solid third, and wins in Iowa and New Hampshire would definitely make this at least a three person race. McCain also needs a win in New Hampshire, as he has pretty much put all of his chips into this one last gasp gamble. Thompson is probably going to win in South Carolina, and Giuliani will do the same in Florida. Outside of a potential strong Ron Paul showing in Iowa, none of the other remaining Republicans have much of a chance. In this weekâ€™s poll, Paul is at 2% with Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter at 1%. The number of undecided Republicans continues to slowly drop. This week it is at 17%.
I still think that is unlikely that Mike Huckabee will be able to win the nomination, but he has made a national name for himself and would make a fine running mate for any of the top three Republican candidates. As last nightâ€™s Fox News debate illustrated, this race is already turning particularly nasty. You can be certain that tempers will continue to rise as votes are cast and the nomination remains up for grabs. I donâ€™t think any of these candidates can consolidate the national base a build a consensus big enough to earn them the nomination. No one should be surprised if the Republicans head to their convention without a nominee.
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.