Early Presidential Frontrunners May Be Slip-Sliding Away

Posted December 4, 2007 at 4:09pm

The rush of new national polls and surveys of key early caucus and primary states have underlined the volatility of voters at this stage of the presidential campaign as well as a sense that many voters are not entirely happy with or committed to their choices. And, if the numbers are to be believed, the field of “frontrunners” may be in the process of being shaken up.

The latest numbers came this afternoon from the Rasmussen Reports Daily Tracking Poll which showed that Rudy Giuliani has fallen back in the pack in the race for the Republican nomination. Giuliani’s support was down to 18 percent, where he is tied with the surging Mike Huckabee, and four other candidates are within six percentage points of him. Hillary Clinton continues to lose ground as well. The former First Lady now attracts 35% of the vote, down from 41% a week ago and 43% two weeks ago. Barack Obama’s support remains steady at 23%. John Edwards gained two points on Tuesday to 17% while Bill Richardson is the top choice for 7% of likely Democratic primary voters nationwide.

In another national poll, the USA Today/Gallup poll today said Clinton still enjoyed a hefty lead over Obama of 39 percent to his 24 percent, although that represented slippage of nine points for her since last month.

The first rude shock to frontrunners came Sunday in the Des Moines Register’s respected Iowa poll, showing Huckabee forging into the lead ahead of Mitt Romney on the GOP side, and Barack Obama sneaking past Hillary Clinton among likely Democratic caucus-goers.

The Pew Research Center weighed in on Monday with a three state survey on the Democrats showing that Clinton in a statistical tie with Obama in Iowa, but with strong leads in New Hampshire and South Carolina — states she may have to hope serve as firewalls if she loses Iowa. On the heels of the Des Moines Register and Pew polls, Iowa State University played the contrarian, saying its surveys showed Clinton and Romney still on top in Iowa and attributing the different showings to uncertainty among voters. “They’re really not committed to these candidates yet,” said Iowa State’s poll director. A new Pew poll today found echoes of that uncertainty among voters in the three early states when it came to the Republican field, calling support for the candidates “highly fluid” in all of them.

There were some other polls today from elsewhere around the country.

In California, SurveyUSA said Giuliani leads Republicans with 32 percent, John McCain is second at 18 percent, and Huckabee, Romney and Fred Thompson are tied for third. On the Democratic Side, Clinton holds a two-to-one lead over Obama.

In Colorado, Rasmussen Reports said a general election presidential match-up shows Clinton trailing both Giuliani and McCain by four points and Huckabee by one point. She has a three point lead over Romney. On the Senate front, former Republican Rep. Bob Schaffer and Democratic Rep. Mark Udall are tied in their race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Wayne Allard.