Tuesday, January 29, 2008


"The Republicans. John McCain's narrow 33 to 30 percent victory over Mike Huckabee in South Carolina on January 19 put McCain in a strong position to win the nomination and meant that Huckabee's failure to win it would not be seen as the repudiation of a front-running candidate personifying a large core constituency of the party. That seems to be the case now. Polling shows the Florida race very close, but the evidence suggests that McCain, buoyed by endorsements by Sen. Mel Martinez and, on the South Carolina Democrats' election night, Gov. Charlie Crist, has some momentum. Rasmussen's Saturday numbers (reflecting polling on Friday and earlier) showed Romney up 33 to 27 percent; his Sunday numbers (reflecting Saturday night polling) showed it tied at 31 each. That's a pretty sharp turn for a tracking poll.

The movement toward McCain can also be seen in Rasmussen's national tracking. Before Christmas, McCain was running in the 8 to 15 percent range. After Christmas, when the Benazir Bhutto assassination pointed to international instability, McCain shot up to 17 percent. In polling after his New Hampshire victory, McCain has been polling in the low 20s. After his South Carolina victory, he has been in the mid-20s, 24 to 27 percent. It must be added that Mitt Romney has risen as well, from 21 percent in the January 25 results to 27 and 28 percent on January 27-28. Is this the result of votes moving to him from Fred Thompson, who withdrew January 21, and Mike Huckabee, whose support has been flagging from his pre-South Carolina numbers? It looks like it.

A Florida victory would give either candidate a major leg up in the February 5 contests. Rudy Giuliani seems likely to be effectively eliminated by Florida; Huckabee will presumably go campaigning for delegates in states like Georgia and Alabama on February 5 but looks increasingly like a fringe candidate."

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