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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Wide, Wide Open Race

The latest Newsmax / Zogby poll is out for New Hampshire. All the coverage will be on yet another poll showing the once mighty Romney lead being swallowed up by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, still leads in the Granite State, but his lead is anything but rock solid, the NewsMax/Zogby poll of likely Republican primary voters shows. He wins 24 percent support, barely leading over former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has the support of 21 percent. Arizona Sen. John McCain, once on political life support here, has recovered nicely and wins 16 percent support, while former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who gave up a successful Hollywood career to enter the race last month, wins just 7 percent.
That's all good and all. It may indeed matter now four months before the votes are actually cast. However, it's the internals of this poll that showcase a very different race.

Nearly three out of four — 73 percent — said there is a likelihood they could change their minds between now and the primary election, and nearly one in four — 24 percent — said that, in the last two months, they have changed their minds about whom to support in the race.

Romney leads among top-tier candidates in the percentage of supporters who said they “will definitely vote for that candidate,” with 31 percent. McCain is a close second, as 28 percent of his supporters say they are locked in, compared to 26 percent of Thompson voters and 21 percent of Giuliani voters who said their minds are made up.

Ron Paul has, by far, the most devoted, if very small, base of support — 73 percent of his backers said they are certain to vote for him in the primary.

Just 73 percent of Republicans said they were satisfied with the current field of candidates seeking the GOP presidential nomination, the NewsMax/Zogby survey shows, while 24 percent said they were not satisfied. Another 2 percent said they were not sure. Among conservatives, 77 percent were satisfied with the field, while just 67 percent of moderates were pleased.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of Republicans — 86 percent — said they most want a candidate who stands up for what they believes, and 11 percent said they would instead prefer a candidate who can win the presidency. Asked if they thought the Republican candidate who stands up for what they believe can win the election, just 72 percent said “yes,” while 17 percent said “no.” Another 12 percent were unsure on the question. The more conservative the likely voter, the more certain they were that their candidate could win the election if they stood up for what they believed during the campaign.

I've long been wondering how much of a factor Independent voters are going to be in the New Hampshire GOP Primary. With the '06 debacle, Independents voted with Democrats. There's no sign so far that this is going to change in the early primary states. So the potential of them effecting the GOP side is rare. If they go to the Democratic side, I could see them going with Obama over Hillary.

Finally, I pointed out those two points to show how wide open this race is. Nearly 75% of GOP voters in New Hampshire haven't decided if they're going to leave the dance with the one who brought them. That sort of fluidity is similar to what Democrats had in 2004. Something NBC's Political Director Chuck Todd has been highlighting for months in his columns and TV appearances.

That second point, should really worry the Giuliani Campaign. Beyond 9/11 and NYC management, their biggest plank is "We can win!" or "We can beat Hillary!" The problem with that mentality, is those being polled seem to want someone who's a "Brand X Republican." That'd make McCain, Thompson, and Brownback (not that he'll be around much longer) as the likely options.

One thing I've been wondering myself is as activists feel fatigued, burned out, and probably begin to believe it won't matter who, we're going down. Are they saying, that they'd rather go down with something they believe in?

Strap yourselves in folks. It's going to be a long, bumpy ride to February 5th.