Ladies and Gentleman: Behold the sundry frontrunners!
(When does thie race start, anyway?)
By Mark Kilmer Posted in 2008 — Comments (36) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
The party has not started yet, so such talk at this point has to be for amusement purposes only. The frontrunners, the tiers, the polls, the managers and strategists.
Rudy Giuliani is not the frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination. He's leading in all the early national polls and his support is strong. But the frontrunner is Mitt Romney. Yeah, I know the early national polls show him either tied with John McCain for third or in fourth place, but the early polls show that Romney is leading in New Hampshire and Iowa. Momentum, my man. More momentum than Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul combined.
A senior Romney strategist concocted this bit, according to the WashPost:
"Rudy Giuliani continues to lead the Republican field as he has since polling on the race began last year," writes Gage in a document dated July 20. "However, Giuliani's support began to ebb in February and has slipped 2-3 points per month since then."
As evidence, Gage points to a compilation of national polls done by Charles Franklin, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, that seems to show similar negative trend lines in national polls for both Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
A few early polls showing early trends might – might! – indicate that Rudy Giuliani might not be the frontrunner forever, which allows that there is a frontrunner, but a little slippage doesn't make Romney the frontrunner unless or until he actually is. Tell the candidate what he wants to hear, man, but don't lure him into delusions of things which have not happened and may not materialize.
Giuliani "is now trailing in four of the five key states that fall before Feb. 5," Gage writes. The memo goes on to note that the average of public polls conducted in June and July show Romney leading comfortably in Iowa and New Hampshire and more narrowly in Nevada. Former senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) leads the way in South Carolina, while Giuliani is a strong first choice only in Florida.
Fred Thompson has not declared. Fred Thompson has not begun to campaign. I've written for a long time and time again that this campaign does not begin until Fred Thompson starts to campaign. However he fares, his entry inflates the dynamic, twists it into knots, pokes it with a pin, and sends it blowing around the arena hither and yon.
I'm not sure what is Team Mitt's plan, unless it is to declare him the winner and hope somebody buys it. Remember, a candidate's chances must be taken seriously before he can win.
With this memo, Romney is clearly making a play at front-runner status, figuring that if he can establish himself atop the heap, Thompson and Giuliani will fight it out for the chance to be one of the last two standing. Gage asserts that Thompson and Giuliani "may be competing for the same pool of voters" judging by Thompson's ascent in the polls, and he adds a line from Romney media consultant Alex Castellanos: "If Rudy is the tough mayor of New York, Fred is the guy they would hire to play Rudy on TV."
Wrong. Fred wants the Reagan wing and Romney needs it. Rudy picks up most of his support, it seems, among the security and anti-terrorist voters. Could it be a resurgent John McCain fighting like Luke Skywalker coming out of the death star with a Mitt Romney who is still having trouble making the connection with the party base? This is for third place, mind you, just like many of the early national polls already read.
I'm going to say it again. Such memoranda are eye candy at this point in this race. Anything could happen, and we all have our predictions, but oughtn't we to wait to see how the field sorts itself out of Fred Thompson? Remember, after Fred Thompson, nothing will be the same.
But tiers at this point give everyone something to do before the race begins and some fall out.
All out! Don't fall out.