Count no one out: Florida is wide open (for Republicans, that is)

Four new polls out of Florida today show different leaders and varying margins. The one vague consensus appears to be that it's a McCain versus Romney race with Giuliani and Huckabee lagging behind but well within striking distance. To the numbers:

  • The most reputable poll is the St. Petersburg Times's. It has John McCain at 25% with Romney at 23%, with Huckabee and Giuliani at 13%. The poll was conducted prior to Thompson's dropping out and has the former candidate at 4%.
  • We also get Democratic numbers from this survey, with Hillary up 42% to 23% for Obama and 12% for Edwards.

  • McCain is also ahead in the new Strategic Vision poll which has him up 25% to 22% on Giuliani, with Romney at 20% and Huckabee at 18%. Thompson got 6% in this survey.
  • A week ago, Strategic Vision showed McCain ahead 27% to 20% to Huckabee, with Romney at 17%, so the race has tightened.

  • And Romney fans get to celebrate because the former governor is up in two other polls. First, an Insider Advantage poll that has him at 24%, with Giuliani at 19%, McCain at 18%, and Huckabee at 12%.
  • Second, a PPP survey has Romney leading 28% to McCain's 25%, Giuliani's 19% and Huckabee's 15%.
Huckabee at this point is the only candidate among the top four who is retreating from the Sunshine State. Though he led in some polls here back in the days of his national surge in November, Huckabee doesn't have the money to compete here and expect to see him declining in the coming days. The question, of course, is who Huckabee defectors end up voting for.

Giuliani has put everything in Florida and it seems that he will leave everything there as well if he loses the state. He is spending about $375,000 a day right now, and he is still close enough to hope that investment yields him a victory next Tuesday. Helping Giuliani is the fact that McCain appears to be having some money problem that has forced him to attend fundraisers these past few days instead of traveling around Florida (yet again, this is probably the best time to spend time raising money, given that the campaign will go national immediately after Florida).

But every one is at a loss to explain why Giuliani is still refusing to go after McCain in what could be his only hope of hoping the Senator's momentum at this point. Today, Giuliani released a web video criticizing McCain's opposition to a national catastrophic fund -- but such an attack only has a chance of doing any damage if it is aired on TV or in mailers, of course, not on the Internet. (Update: The WaPo's Fix has a link to this web video and also wonders why Giuliani is not going all-out with this issue that Chris Cillizza describes as a rare clear policy difference that could be a huge political winner. A puzzled Cillizza adds, "We tried to get to the bottom of this decision, speaking with any number of Giuliani advisers. They insisted that the decision not to put the ad on television had nothing to do with money.")

One more reason to not dismiss Giuliani's chances at a strong showing: Don't forget (as I have already discussed) that Giuliani's strength comes from absentee voting and early voting. Recent polls have shown him tied with McCain among those who have already voted (which could be about 25% of the electorate at this point) and looking much weaker among those who have not. But that means that Giuliani has a base of votes that have already come in and that he is more immune than the other candidates to whatever movement occurs in the final week.

  • More evening polls: Heading to February 5th
A few more noteworthy polls tonight, starting with Rasmussen's new South Carolina survey, that has Obama with a widening lead, 43% to 28%, with Edwards at 17%. The black votes goes big for Obama, 68% to 16%, with Clinton taking the white vote 40% to 21%. Edwards is second there with 27%.

Meanwhile, we are getting an increasing amount of surveys from February 5th states, some of which have not been surveying that much so it's a good opportunity to get a better idea of what to expect in two weeks:

  • In Arizona, a good test of the Western vote in which Latinos could make a difference, the GOP race is not close, as John McCain gets his home-state 41% to 18% for Romney. Everyone else is in single-digits... And it's not usual to see Romney that much stronger than Giuliani in states where the campaign has not engaged, a sure sign that Romney is starting to be paid attention to.
  • In the more interesting Democratic race, Clinton has a big 45% to 24% lead. This is the kind of red-leaning state Obama should look into winning to demonstrate his appeal in territory Democrats have struggled in, and he should be helped by Gov. Napolitano's endorsement -- but this is a big lead that will be hard to close.

  • Some interesting numbers also from the Alabama primary which has Clinton at 31% and Obama at 28% in what is essentially a statistical tie. Clinton is crushed among the black vote -- but what gives her a small lead her is that Edwards is very weak among white voters, at only 13%.

  • Finally, in a Quinnipiac poll of New Jersey, the race to watch is the GOP fight between Giuliani who has slipped into second-place at 26% and McCain who has taken the lead at 29% -- Romney is third at 14%. Thompson gets 9% here -- so the distribution of that vote will be very interesting to watch. Naturally, NJ was supposed to be one of the two most momentum-proof states for Rudy, so...
  • Among Democrats, Clinton is leading 49% to 32%, with Edwards at 10% -- but she trails among black voters by just as much as anywhere else, 62% to 27%, showing that she has lost the black vote pretty much nationally at this point.

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  • Taniel, I read your blog almost everyday, and your analysis is usually right on. But the polls this year have been totally worthless.

    That's all.

    By Blogger Kevin Robinson, At 23 January, 2008 23:10  

  • Kevin,
    Thanks for reading! And I beg to differ. The polls in Iowa were pretty amazingly accurate (especially the DMR one, which was the survey that we were waiting for the most); surveys in Michigan picked up Romney's rise, and most polls in the final day of the South Carolina primary had a tightening race with McCain surviving on top. And then there is New Hampshire, of course. And while the Democratic numbers were way off, the unique nature of the 5-day window between Iowa and New Hampshire made the situation very volatile; and I hae argued before that there were plenty of clues in the polls to explain what happened in New Hampshire, and that it's the media's fault for not recognizing them.

    By Blogger Taniel, At 24 January, 2008 00:01  

  • I would hazard a guess that since there seems to be such a big difference of opinion amongst the voters, it is especially difficult to find a representative sample. A poll of my close friends, for example, would reveal support for Ron Paul, Huckabee, Guiliani, Obama (that's me!), Clinton, etc.

    Taniel, thank you for the time and effort you put into this blog. It is a welcome respite, an eye in the middle of the maelstrom that is the rest of the media coverage.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 24 January, 2008 09:59  

  • I agree. For the most part the polls have been good. It's just that the ones that were not have gotten all of the press.

    I think with Thompson gone and Huckabee out of money, we will see the rise of Romney in Florida and if he wins, McCain won't be able to raise enough cash to compete on Super Super Tuesday.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 24 January, 2008 10:42  

  • c.s. strowbridge: Romney would be idea, from the perspective of this non-Republican.

    Here's hoping Hillary crashes and burns on Super-Duper Tuesday!

    By Blogger Kevin Robinson, At 24 January, 2008 12:50  

  • "Romney would be idea, from the perspective of this non-Republican."

    I agree. Romney vs. Clinton has the entire south turning purple. The Republicans would have to spend money defending states like Georgia, and not even Romney could afford to do that.

    Obama doesn't do as well is as many Southern states, but he would hold the west and Northwest with ease.

    On the other hand, McCain can beat Clinton in the west (Washington and Oregon), and Obama in more southern states.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 24 January, 2008 20:13  

  • Excellent blog!

    I do intensive electoral statistical analyses, stop by my blog:


    By Blogger Mark, At 25 January, 2008 12:04  

  • Sorry, forgot to post my blog as a link here.

    Like I said, excellent blog!!

    By Blogger Mark, At 25 January, 2008 12:12  

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