27 November 2007

The Polling Report

In the race for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination, a host of polling shows a predictably tightening race with several Republican candidates within striking distance of the front. While national polls continue to show strength for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, it is important to remember that national polling data is completely irrelevant when it comes time to choose a Republican nominee, because the primaries are held state-by-state, not nationwide (though February 5th's Super Tuesday comes close).

Caucus-goers in Iowa will head to their local school, town hall, senior center, or sometimes even private residences to pick a nominee for President on an inevitably cold Iowa night to pick a Presidential nominee. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has held a firm lead in Iowa since the early summer, with RealClearPolitics showing a commanding lead for Governor Romney up until recently. The graph at RCP shows the story of the surging Arkansan Mike Huckabee, who has jumped up into second place as Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain have all either held or given up some of their support. Romney and Huckabee seem primed for a fight to the finish in Iowa. A clear victory for Romney in Iowa could well give him the Big Mo' necessary to power through the New Hampshire primary on January 8th, likely making Romney the Republican nominee. A narrow victory for Romney will make New Hampshire and South Carolina all the more important. A Huckabee victory in Iowa would give their effort a massive jolt of excitement while simultaneously making Gov. Romney's journey a much harder slog.

And just four days later, on January 8th, primary voters in New Hampshire will head to the polls to choose their favorite candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination. Equally chilly New Hampshire Republicans and independents who show up on Election Day are welcome to cast their ballots in the Granite State, which has set the scene for a unique political dynamism. They voted for John McCain in 2000, Pat Buchanan in 1996, and are still very much torn on their choice for 2008. RCP has Governor Romney well out in front in New Hampshire, with an average margin of more than 14% over the nearest rival, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Romney's numbers have been fairly stable in New Hampshire, with a mid-October lull seemingly in his rear view mirror and a coinciding Giuiliani rise apparently on the wane. Gov. Huckabee's numbers are creeping up in New Hampshire, though without the same yeast that is seen in the Iowa numbers. The much-anticipated candidacy of Fred Thompson seems to have boomed and busted through the past autumn, as his announcement was criticized for flaws, his candidacy pegged as haphazard, and his demeanor seemingly nonchalant about the whole thing.

The sum seems to be a strong position for Governor Romney in the early states, with Mayor Giuliani, and Governor Mike Huckabee poised to present formidible challenges to the Romney candidacy.