This week’s Rasmussen Reports 2008 Republican primary poll update finds Rudy Giuliani moving ahead of Fred Thompson by a single point, but this is still within the margin of error, meaning the two candidates are statistically tied. Fred Thompson lost a point of support last week which allowed Giuliani to take the lead 25%-24%. This week marks this first time in the last ten polls that Giuliani has led Thompson. It is interesting to note that the former New York City mayor didn’t take the lead because he gained in support. In fact Giuliani’s support has been 21%-25% for the last seven weeks. However six weeks ago, Thompson reached 27% support, but since then he has lost a few points, which is what allowed Giuliani to leapfrog over him.

Mitt Romney was the only top tier Republican candidate to register a gain in support this week. Romney moved from 12% to 14%. This might not seem like much of a move, but Romney had been stalled at 12% for the past month. It is also his highest level of support in over two months. Sen. John McCain spent a third consecutive week at 11%, and it has been nine weeks since he been higher than 12%. Among the other Republican candidates, Mike Huckabee was fifth at 3%, Sen. Sam Brownback got 2%, and Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, and Tommy Thompson split 2% of the vote. Eighteen percent of those asked were still undecided. This means that undecided outperforms all the GOP candidates except Giuliani and Thompson. Unless Romney and/or McCain can pull closer, this is shaping up to be a two candidate race.

It is really anybody’s guess as to which way this race will go. Much of the outcome depends on how Fred Thompson performs after he becomes an official candidate. If Thompson lives up to the expectations that many have put on him, then you can expect he and Giuliani to duke it out for the Republican nomination across the country in 2008. However, this race could be turned wide open if Thompson falls on his face, and there are signs that this could very possibly happen too. Should Thompson stumble, the door then would be wide open for Mitt Romney to make a serious play for the nomination.

It seems as if Romney’s role in this race is to serve as the fall back option for those who are supporting Thompson, and want a more conservative candidate than Giuliani. I would put John McCain in this category too, but he appears to have burned almost all of his bridges with conservative voters, on top of the fact that he has no money and very little staff. It will take a Lazarus like performance in the early voting states for McCain to once again be a serious contender for the Republican nomination. As we stand today, Rudy Giuliani seems to have peaked. Fred Thompson is the great unknown. Mitt Romney could very easily end up being a serious contender or an also ran. John McCain is just trying to survive, and the rest of the field is looking more like filler each week.

Weekly polling data

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Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at


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