Presidential polls: Romney strong in NH, and Giuliani slips in one of his "momentum-proof" states

First, a quick notes on the Des Moines Register debates: I was not able to watch the GOP debate yesterday since I was busy at that time (can someone explain why these debates are being held at 1pm?), but will try to watch and comment on the Democrats' today. For those who are still looking for some analysis of yesterday's fireworks, well, there apparently were no fireworks, and most commentators hold Huckabee and Romney to have helped themselves tremendously. Here's one recap. And now, on to the polls!

  • Romney in New Hampshire
I am not sure why we are seeing this deluge of New Hampshire polls in the past 24 hours, though I guess it's better than getting a ton of Florida primary polls like we sometimes do. In any case, the latest Rasmussen poll from New Hampshire has Romney running very strong.

  • Romney gets 33%, with John McCain second at 18% and Rudy Giuliani at 15%. Mike Huckabee is at 14%, Ron Paul at 8%, followed by Tancredo at 3% and Fred Thompson is now seventhat 2%!
These numbers are very consistent with the CNN and Suffolk numbers released yesterday, and all three polls show the same basic picture: Romney is still very strong, and McCain is starting to come in in front of Giuliani. Huckabee is stronger in Rasmussen than in the other two polls, but it is clear that his surge is not taking the proportions it is taking in other states -- which is really not a surprise considering the different make-up of NH.

Would an Iowa loss make Romney tank a bit? Perhaps. But it would not help McCain or Giuliani who will surely get much worse than Romney in Iowa. If these two want to help themselves, they will have to do so all by themselves without relying on the caucuses, something they have not been able to do for now. The question now seems to be: Can Romney stop Huckabee even with a NH win? Or would Huckabee just sweep to victory in SC and onward? The clue to an answer seems to be Michigan, which could really witness a bataille royale between the two candidates.

  • Quinnipiac shows New Jersey tight
Quinnippiac got a new New Jersey poll out today, and it shows Giuliani would keep the state very competitive in a general election. Not that it is a new finding since many poll have shown he would be in a great position to pick up these 15 EVs, but it's certainly part of Giuliani's electability argument:

  • Hillary Clinton holds a statistically insignificant 45% to 44% lead, which is actually the first time Clinton has held any sort of lead. She was led by as much as 9% back in April, before making it a toss-up.
  • But in the GOP primary, Giuliani slips from 48% to 38%, though he stays far in front of second-place McCain's 12%.
  • Among Democrats, Clinton's up 51% to 17%.
The Republican numbers I find fascinating: Remember Giuliani's delegate strategy? It is based on the premise that no matter what happens in January he will win New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on February 5th because they are in his backyard, and that this will give him a delegate lead since these 3 states are all winner-take-all and would give him about 200 delegates. The Giuliani camp calls these states momentum-proof.

A state in which he leads with 38% is anything but momentum-proof. Giuliani had a bad month, and he slid by 10%. Giuliani might win New Jersey, but it is now clear that he will only do so if he remains relevant in January, and GOP voters will have no problem tossing him over board. (This is not necessarily true in New York, but how far can Rudy go with a home-state win only?) I did use to think that Giuliani was right in saying these states were momentum-proof but that was in the case that Giuliani lost early-states but still remained relevant. Now, if the race devolves into a Huckabee-Romney showdown by the end of January, I'm not sure if anyone will pay attention to Rudy anymore. Bottom line: Giuliani needs to make something happen in January. And where else but in New Hampshire.

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