Yesterday Rasmussen Reports released their weekly Republican primary poll update. The biggest change this week is that Fred Thompson has edged back ahead of Rudy Giuliani by a point. Thompson benefited from all the media attention that surrounded his announcement that he is officially running for the presidential nomination, and he was also helped by another lackluster performance by Rudy Giuliani in the most recent GOP debate.

Thompson leads Giuliani, 24%-23%. The good news for Thompson is that last week reversed a trend of flat or declining numbers. The bad news is that even with all the mainstream media attention his announcement got, he still wasn’t able to break 25%, or establish a solid lead over Giuliani. It has been seven weeks since Thompson has been at or over 25% in this poll. Fortunately for Thompson, Rudy Giuliani has been unable to build or sustain any momentum in his campaign either. Giuliani has been at 25% or less in the poll for 12 of the past 13 weeks.

The former New York City mayor’s biggest problem is that most Republican voters do not view him as a conservative. A different Rasmussen Reports poll in late July found that 2/3 of the likely Republican voters viewed Giuliani as a moderate or a liberal. Giuliani hasn’t been helping himself by refusing to answer questions about his family’s support of his campaign, and by making statements that indicate his belief that illegal immigration isn’t a serious crime.

Mitt Romney remained in third place at 13%, and John McCain is fourth at 12%. Although Romney is poised to win in Iowa, his campaign has the look of one that is seriously stuck in a rut. Romney has spent ten straight weeks at 12%-14%. This week is the third straight that Romney was at exactly 13%. Romney’s situation is similar to John Edwards on the Democratic side. He has never broken 20% in this poll, and he really needs early state wins to put him in a position to make a serious run at the nomination. For John McCain, his struggling campaign continues to hang on, but he has hasn’t been above 12% since the end of May, and he is betting on a win in New Hampshire to keep his campaign alive.

Little has changed with the rest of Republican field. Mike Huckabee remains in fifth at 6%, and Brownback, Paul, Tancredo, and Hunter each split 4% of the vote. Seventeen percent of those surveyed were undecided. For this group of candidates, money and media attention are the problems. All of these candidates are under funded and underexposed, which means that nothing short of a shocking showing in the early states will keep them in the race.

The big questions in this race remain centered around Fred Thompson. Will Thompson be able to build a national organization and raise enough money to compete? It also remains to be seen how Thompson will perform in the debates and stack up against the other candidates. As we head into the fall, and get closer to Iowa and New Hampshire, I suspect that these numbers will move a bit as more people start paying attention. Barring an election night shocker somewhere, the GOP field will probably come down to Giuliani, Thompson, and Romney.

Rasmussen Reports tracking poll history

Related Rasmussen article 

Jason Easley is the politics editor at His column The Political Universe appears every Tuesday and Friday.

You can listen to a special 9/11 edition of his Blog Talk Radio show titled Remembering 9/11 tonight at 7:00 PM ET at

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