As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dead Heat

I've decided to forego mockery for one post in favor of state-of-the-race analysis. With a month to go, all signs in Iowa show a two-horse race.

Romney and Huckabee on the Republican side are in dead heats in Iowa, according to a new poll out conducted by Strategic Vision, a Republican pollster.

First Read got a look at some of the numbers, and they show Romney at 26%; Huckabee at 24%; Giuliani at 14%; Thompson at 10%; McCain at 7%.

This puts Huckabee within the margin of error, and probably close enough so that any victory will be a Huckabee victory on January 3, given the superior resources that the Romney campaign has expended (though Huckabee is making up a little of the difference with a strong online campaign). As Matt Yglesias notes, any hit to Romney's front-runner campaign in the early states is probably fatal, and because Huckabee has so far not translated the success in Iowa throughout the nation, this probably has the impact of helping Rudy Giuliani:

At the moment, Huckabee and Romney are both trending upwards, but Huckabee is gaining on Romney because he's trending upwards faster. If the bulk of Thompson's remaining supporters (a not inconsiderable slice of the electorate) decide that Huckabee is the southern white Christian dude for them, then Huckabee stands a decent chance of pulling off an upset and Romney's in big trouble. But if they decide that they need to do the pragmatic "Stop Rudy" thing and vote for Romney, then it really does seem like Mitt winds up sweeping the early primary table and Giuliani's in big trouble.

All of which is fairly conventional wisdom, but it's striking when you get down to it exactly how helpful the Huckabee Surge has been to Giuliani. This is particularly noteworthy because the two candidates represent basically opposite tendencies within the conservative movement. It wouldn't shock me if you saw maxed-out Giuliani donors cutting Huckabee checks. Certainly, I think it'd be a savvy play.

Huckabee as Giuliani's stand-in for the caucuses? Now those are some strange bedfellows.

Like Mark Halperin in his apologia to the world of journalism, I don't think this kind of horse-race analysis benefits a well-informed citizenry, so let me add that Huckabee's faux-populism has so far yielded only a right-wing flat-tax proposal, and his latest ad and support from Tim LaHaye reveal that this is really theocracy with a kinder face. I also think that, once the word gets out about Huckabee's immigration stance, he's doomed in a Republican primary.

UPDATE: Of course, if Huckabee can show the same surge in Florida, undercutting Rudy's one chance at success before Super Duper Tuesday, then the whole nomination is a crapshoot. And Fred Thompson might not even get his wife's vote if this keeps up.

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