by Todd Beeton, Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 12:25:05 AM EST
According to the three polls released on Thursday, he already has.
The results of the latest Rasmussen Reports (895 LVs, 1/16, MOE +/- 3%), Survey USA (470 LVs, 1/16, MOE +/- 4.6%) and Mason Dixon (400 LVs, 1/14-16, MOE +/- 5%) polls show McCain and Huckabee essentially even for the lead.
|Candidate||Rasmussen Reports 1/16||Survey USA 1/16||Mason Dixon 1/14-16||RCP 5-poll Ave.|
That's not to say all polls agree, however, including the latest ARG poll (600 LVs, 1/15-16, MOE +/- 4%), which finds McCain leading by 10 points, and, notably, the Reuters/CSPAN/Zogby tracking poll, the third installment of which was just released early Friday morning, which shows a 7 point race, technically outside of the poll's 3.4% MOE. In some discouraging news for Huckabee, his and McCain's numbers show no discernible movement whatsoever in the 3 day rolling averages.
But we know the limitations of a three-day average when there's just mere days between contests, so instead of Monday morning quarterbacking, John Zogby pulls back the curtain for us today.
"There is movement afoot in the Palmetto State. The precise three-day rolling average is McCain 28.6%, Huckabee 22.3%, Romney 15.4%, and Thompson 13.2%. The very first day of polling McCain led by double digits. In the single day of polling on Thursday alone, Romney hit 19%, while McCains lead over Huckabee stood at only 3.2%. If Romney continues to gain after Michigan it will hurt McCain. [...]
"In addition to looking over his shoulder to fend off a possible Romney surge, McCain has to worry that 22% of his supporters are either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to change their mind a figure higher than among Huckabees supporters (15%) or Romneys (17%)."
Is the universe aligned against John McCain? First, the seven days between New Hampshire and Michigan are just enough for his bounce to fade, but now the 4 days between Michigan and South Carolina are just enough for Romney to ride a wave in SC even though he's essentially not campaigning there. This guy can't catch a break.
Speaking of the universe conspiring against McCain, on Thursday's Hardball, Chuck Todd brought up yet another factor in the race that could work against him, in Mike Huckabee's favor.
We always think that evangelicals are under-sampled in polling, that they don't show up in as high numbers in polling as they do on election day.
Which merely points to John McCain's essential problem: not only do conservatives have trust issues with him, but they also have candidates they prefer to him representing the "values" leg of the so-called conservative stool (Huckabee) and the fiscal (Romney.) Sure, McCain has the national security conservatives on board but the more the economy goes down the toilet and the war leaves the front page, for South Carolina conservatives, the downside to John McCain far outweighs the upside. And if we see John McCain lose on Saturday, the story will begin to develop that he just can't win anywhere but New Hampshire; in other words, he can't win a majority of Republican voters, which is a problem when you're running in the Republican primary.