From Powerline’s John Hinderaker’s review of the latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics numbers out of New Hampshire, which put Romney ahead of John McCain by 8 points, with Rudy sinking and the MSM-enabled Mike Huckabee mired at 7 points. John writes:
Two points stand out. The first is that Fred Thompson has essentially zero traction in New Hampshire. Maybe he’s pursuing a Southern strategy, but a lot of Republicans, like me, think it is important for the GOP to break out of the Southern mold. The second is that Mitt Romney continues to hold a perceptible lead over very formidable competition. I think Romney could make an excellent President, but I’ve been concerned about whether his political skills are up to the challenge of a national campaign. So far, though, you have to give him credit for a very strong effort in New Hampshire.
The GOP electorate is a very informed electorate and recognizes that only two candidates are viable in a race against either Hillary or Obama, and in that the race between Giuliani and Romney, Romney is pulling away bit by bit. Both candidates have late-arriving challenges. Mike Huckabee’s MSM-fueled lift in Iowa has already begun to dissipate, but the number of daggers out for Rudy in the press are drawing blood.
Rudy’s got an article on border security in this morning’s Des Moines Register. (HT: RCP). The mayor is making a late play in Iowa which is very smart for him and very bad news for Huckabee, whose record on illegal immigration is the softest of all the GOP nominees, including every member of the second tier. Rudy’s going to draw attention not only to that issue and thus to Huckabee’s soft populism on most issues, but also to the fact that Rudy is in the race and that an identity-politics vote for Huckabee (“He’s an evangelical like me!) is really a vote for nominating Rudy.
With a month until the caucuses, the super-served voters of Iowa, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina will know everything about all of the candidates. This season of no surprises helps Romney –decisively.