In the latest Rasmussen Reports 2008 Republican poll released today, soon to be declared candidate Fred Thompson holds a narrow one point lead over former New Your City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Thompson currently leads Giuliani, 24%-23%. The biggest impact Thompson seems to be having on the race is the amount of distance he creates in the field between the top two candidates and the next two, John McCain and Mitt Romney. McCain and Romney are still engaged in their close battle for third, but both of them are supported by only 12% of those asked in this latest poll. Much of how this race turns out will depend on if Fred Thompson can convince Republican primary voters that he is the most conservative candidate.

In a Rasmussen poll taken last month, 44% of likely Republican voters labeled Thompson as a conservative. Mitt Romney was second at 41%, followed by John McCain at 38%, Mike Huckabee at 25%, and Rudy Giuliani at 23%. It is clear that many Republican voters are unsatisfied with Giuliani’s moderate positions. They appear to want a more traditional Republican at the top of the ticket, but Thompson’s voting record would indicate that he is ideologically closer to his good friend John McCain than Ronald Reagan, but being a McCain without all the baggage of the real John McCain might be enough to get him the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Among the second tier candidates, Mike Huckabee has 3%, and the remaining six candidates split 4% of the support. Since Gov. Jim Gilmore dropped out of the race of the weekend, so this is the last poll that he will be included in. Rudy Giuliani has seen his popularity continue to slip, but he still remains the most popular Republican. He is now viewed favorably by 71% of Republican voters, which is down 4% from last week. Thompson is viewed favorably by 61%, which is down by 3 %, but 25% of voters say they still don’t know enough about him yet. Mitt Romney is viewed favorably by 56% and John McCain by 54%.

It seems that Thompson’s rise can be linked to the hope that he is more conservative than Giuliani. If his words match the voters’ expectations, this could be a long drawn out national primary battle. However if Thompson falls flat, the ‘anybody but Rudy’ forces could turn their attention towards Mitt Romney. I think the only thing that we can definitely be certain of is that these polls represent a deep dissatisfaction with the prospect of Rudy Giuliani being the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. Republicans like Rudy, but they don’t think that he is conservative enough to lead their ticket against a potential match up with Hillary Clinton. In the end, much of this race will depend on how Fred Thompson does. GOP hopes may end up sinking or swimming with Thompson.

Link to Rasmussen Reports poll 

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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