Can Huck Catch McCain In South Carolina?

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.

CandidateRasmussen Reports 1/16Survey USA 1/16Mason Dixon 1/14-16RCP 5-poll Ave.
McCain24292728.4
Huckabee24262524
Romney18171516.4
Thompson16171314.6

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.

Candidate1/15-171/14-161/13-15
McCain292929
Huckabee222223
Romney151213
Thompson131412

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 McCain’s 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 Huckabee’s supporters (15%) or Romney’s (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.

There's more...

Giuliani Fourth in Florida, Failed To Predict McCain

One of the funnier storylines this year has been watching Rudy Giuliani move from definitive Republican frontrunner to something closer to a bad joke.

If you're like me, you'd welcome a president Obama, Clinton or Edwards next November. But while all the Republicans are bad in different ways, the only candidate who I'm convinced would be far, far worse than Bush on every front is Giuliani. Watching Rudy's campaign commercials, which are filled with scare tactics and dramatic narration, you'd be forgiven for thinking he's running for dictator of some corrupt third world country, or that you were watching the trailer for the next Die Hard sequel. He's got the worst of the necons firmly in his camp, including Norman "we should bomb Iran as soon as humanly possible" Podhoretz. His domestic policies would pretty much amount to a third Bush term.

So I'm happy to report that Giuliani has has fallen to fourth in his "firewall" state Florida, behind McCain, Romney and Huckabee. Not only that, he is now, incredibly, in a dead heat with McCain in New York.

And, from the AP, word that Giuliani staffers are having to work for free.

About a dozen senior campaign staffers for Rudy Giuliani are foregoing their January paychecks, aides said Friday, a sign of possible money trouble for the Republican presidential candidate.

"We have enough money, but we could always use more money," contended Mike DuHaime, Giuliani's campaign manager and one of those who now is working for free.

All along, Giuliani was pursuing a strategy, predicated on ignroing Iowa and running a "national campaign," that showed as much hurbis and shortsightness as his foreign policy positions. The idea: Rudy was so awesome that he didn't need to compete in the early states. None of the momentum the other candidates earned from their wins would matter, because, facing an imperfect and divided field, Rudy would swoop in and save the day. Rudy was no doubt hoping that the each unacceptable-in-their-own-ways Romney and Huckabee at the top would leave him an opening.

This strategy might have stood a ghost of a chance, since there really is significant establishment hatred of Huck, and lack of voter enthusiasm for Romney. The problem was, Giuliani utterly failed to predict the resurgence of John McCain. A more credible hawk on national security and foreign policy, a maverick on conservative orthodoxy without being radioactive, McCain occupies precisely the place Giuliani hoped to corner in the spectrum of candidates. He may be old and a lackluster campaigner, but McCain radiates honesty and principle compared to the scandal-tarnished Giuliani.

Lack of money will be a big problem on Feb. 5, when buying ad time in critical states will be crucial to success. And with McCain poised to win Michigan and even on top in some polls of South Carolina, things are looking grimmer for Rudy by the day.

Of course, in a turbulent race like that of the Republicans this year, anything could happen. But if he continues to fall behind, Rudy Giuliani's ludicrous strategy may provide a lesson to future national candidates that they ignore the early states at their peril.

There's more...

Huckabee's New Michigan Ad

I agree with desmoinesdem in Breaking Blue, Huckabee lands a punch with this one, and without even mentioning Romney by name:

I'd first heard Huckabee say the line "I believe most Americans want their next President to remind them of they guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off" on Hardball a couple weeks ago and knew right away that it was a winner, but using it in an ad, in Michigan of all places, to sub- (or not so sub-) consciously paint Mitt Romney as the guy who "laid you off" is freakin' brilliant.

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"The Others"

Remember on 'Lost,' when they met 'The Others'?

Kudos if you know what show that quote is from.

It's been a long day. I am absolutely beat - I've been up since 5am, had but three hours of sleep last night, have barely eaten, and need to volunteer at an Obama event in five hours. Unfortunately, none of the students I contacted about the campus-campaign-leader debate or the Bill Clinton speech have e-mailed me back, but I should still write about the McCain rally in Hanover and the Huckabee/Norris chili feed in Rochester. For the record, the Republicans appear to be winning the sign wars along the two-hour route from Hanover to Rochester, although I can't give you a specific candidate breakdown. Driving home, we passed the Kucinich bus in what I believe was Northwood, and the Republican driver even started to stop, but since Kucinich appeared to be wrapping up his event and climbing into his bus, we pressed on.

This wound up being a longer entry than expected, so I'm tucking most of it below the fold. Given the lateness of the hour, I was unable to proofread this entry, so I hope it passes muster. There are pictures and YouTubes at the end.

First, however, I'd like to direct you to a good piece "remove" wrote at The Daily Background about the Obama Lebanon event I missed.

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The Republican debates through the eyes of a 9-year old

I've avoided the debates until now because I saw them as little more than exercises in media manipulation.  This time, I wanted to watch the Republican debate just to hear the other candidates respond to Ron Paul.  Unfortunately, I had a scheduling conflict so I asked a kid to take notes for me.  As the debate began, I drew a quick seating chart of the candidates to help the kid keep track of who said what and then ran off.  BTW - this is not snark.  This is a straight rendition from a 9 year old.  The only changes I made were for spelling errors (except the names).

It must have been more difficult thant I thought to keep track of all the new names.  That's the only reason I can think of to explain why this  reporter devised their own naming strategy to keep track of the candidates.  Aside from that, it seems they got all the high points.

Follow me below the fold for the 9-years old rendition of a fight between Sarge, Wrinkles, Bunny Ears, Oily, Beagle Eyes and Carrot Face...  

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