New Poll Shows GOP Race Fluid

The latest political poll released Wednesday (12-19-07) from Reuters/Zogby, suggests the presidential race among Republicans might produce a major upset in the Iowa caucus scheduled for 1-3-08.

Mike Huckabee has surged into a virtual tie with front-runner Rudy Giuliani in the national 2008 Republican presidential race two weeks before the first contest, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas whose campaign has caught fire in recent weeks, wiped out an 18-point deficit in one month to pull within one point of Giuliani, 23 percent to 22 percent.

Zogby himself offers insight into Huckabee's remarkable turnaround thus far:

“Huckabee is on a roll, he has gotten an enormous amount of publicity and he is doing very well with conservatives, who at least for now appear to have found a candidate,” pollster John Zogby said.

Giuliani, the former New York mayor who has led most national polls since early in the year, saw his support drop from 29 percent to 23 percent in the survey. His one-point lead over Huckabee was well within the poll's 4.8 percentage point margin of error.

Giuliani isn't the only Republican candidate worried about the Huckabee phenomenom:

Huckabee moved ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was in third place at 16 percent, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson at 13 percent, Arizona Sen. John McCain at 12 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 4 percent.

The groundswell for Huckabee, a Baptist minister with close ties to religious conservatives, has been fueled in part by his growing support among that key party constituency.

Among likely Republican voters who say they are “very conservative,” Huckabee drew the support of 43 percent, with Thompson second at 20 percent and Romney third at 16 percent.

Fred Thompson has said that if he finishes among the top three in Iowa, he would interpret it as an important victory for his late-bloomer candidacy. A third place finish for Romney, however, would almost be fatal when you consider the tsunami of money poured into Iowa by the his organization.

Those voters who describe themselves as “born again” gave Huckabee the lead at 33 percent, with McCain in second at 17 percent and Romney with 14 percent.

The number of undecided likely Republican voters dropped from 21 percent last month to 9 percent. The race remains fluid enough to be shaped dramatically by the results in Iowa on January 3 and New Hampshire, where voters go to the polls on January 8.

“Voters are starting to at least pay attention and identify with someone,” Zogby said. “But it doesn't mean they have made up their minds for good.”

Zogby has a right to be cautious given the current volitility of the race. Is this a passing phase or an omen of things to come? Any observations or comments from RMG folks on this sudden turn of events?

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