If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


Where The Republican Primary Stands Now

A Commentary By Douglas Schoen

The Republican Presidential Nomination contest could go any of three or four different directions.

The national contest is extremely close with Rudy Guiliani holding a consistent but modest lead over Fred Thompson. John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney trail behind. The gap between the top five candidates is considerably smaller than the number of undecided voters (see daily Presidential Tracking Poll).

But if the national numbers tell one story, Iowa and New Hampshire tell a different one. In Iowa Romney holds a 6% lead over Thompson and a 7% advantage over Huckabee. Guiliani trials Romney by 12% while McCain is hardly a factor, lagging well behind the frontrunners in single digits.

New Hampshire is also a strong state for Romney who has invested significantly there and served as Governor of neighboring Massachusetts. Romney leads by 9% over Guiliani and 12% over McCain the 2000 victor. Thompson and Huckabee lag well behind in the Granite state.

So how then should one assess the nominating contest on the Republican side?

I still maintain that Romney's significant lead in Iowa and New Hampshire gives him a significant advantage, notwithstanding his poor showing in the national horserace. It is my sense that if the former Massachusetts Governor wins the first two states, he will have a significant amount of momentum and will be hard to stop.

Supporters of Guiliani and Thompson maintain that the first two contests are overrated in importance and will be quickly overshadowed by South Carolina (where Thompson has a narrow advantage) and by the February 5th primaries-- Guiliani has a big lead in the bulk of the 20 odd states that will hold their balloting that day.

And supporters of Mike Huckabee say theirs is the only candidate with national momentum and growing support in Iowa.

Time will tell...

Douglas Schoen is a founding and former partner of Penn Schoen & Berland, and a Fox News Contributor.

Schoen was President Bill Clinton's research and strategic consultant during the 1996 reelection campaign.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.