The back and forth battle for the Republican nomination between Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani continued in this week’s Rasmussen Reports poll update. The former New York City mayor has opened up a five point lead on the still undeclared Thompson, but when the margin of error of four points is factored into the poll, Giuliani has a razor thin one point lead. After reaching 28% on June 19, it appears that Thompson’s momentum has cooled. Since May 8, Giuliani has hovered at 24%-27%. He has reached 27% twice during this span, but he also hit lows of 21% and 23% over this same period. Giuliani hasn’t been at 30% or higher in 15 weeks, but Thompson has yet to break the 30% barrier in any week.

The closest he came was in late June and early July when he registered weeks of 28%, then back to back 27%’s. Thompson’s standing has dropped for four consecutive weeks, and this week’s 22% marks his worst showing since June 5. Among the other candidates, Mitt Romney remained at 14% for the second straight week. Romney has spent the last eight weeks stuck at 12%-14%. It remains to be seen if his straw poll victory will boost his support. John McCain stayed in fourth at 10% this week. This marks the tenth straight week that McCain has been at 10%-12%. This week’s showing equaled McCain’s low point which he matched on June 19.

It will probably take a few week’s to see if Mike Huckabee’s second place finish in the Iowa straw poll boosts him to the top tier. For this week, Huckabee remained at 4%. Five other candidates, Sam Brownback, Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, and Tommy Thompson, split 5% of the vote, and 19% remained undecided. Even though the Huckabee camp is trying to sell their guy as a top tier candidate, he isn’t just yet. In my estimation, he gained more media attention for finishing second than Romney did for winning the Iowa straw poll. If he can translate that media attention into support, Huckabee could be a real contender. He has the message, background, and personality to be a serious option for GOP voters. His problem has been that his message isn’t getting heard because he is having trouble raising money.

Rudy Giuliani is the frontrunner by default right now. Fred Thompson is falling off the radar a little. Even Mitt Romney’s wealth can’t cover up the fact that he is Mormon, and the McCain campaign has become the ghost ship of this primary. The rest of the candidates need the political equivalent of a Hail Mary pass to be serious contenders. Huckabee was given an opening, and now we will have to wait and see if he can capitalize. If he doesn’t make progress now, he may find himself buried under all the Fred Thompson hype in September. Sometimes a candidate only get one chance during an election, and this looks like Huckabee’s. The future of his campaign may turn on his ability to make up ground on the frontrunners over the next few weeks.

Rasmussen Reports poll history 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
 

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