Notes On The State On The 2008 Republican Race

* Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney seem to have roughly the same amount of name recognition, but Fred has much, much, better polling numbers nationally and in just about any state where Mitt isn’t spending a lot of money.

For Thompson, this is good news, because he is practically even with Rudy and he has a lot of room to grow. Unfortunately for Mitt, he is generating surprisingly high negatives. So, to know him isn’t to love him.

* Rudy seems to have hit a ceiling nationally and despite the fact that he’s running an excellent campaign, he’s plateauing. That’s very problematic for him because Fred Thompson is almost neck and neck with Rudy and slowly but surely rising.

Let me show you what I mean via RealClearPolitics,

Mid-March: Fred Thompson 10.5% vs. Rudy Giuliani 38%
3 months later in mid-June: Fred Thompson 19.8% vs. Rudy Giuliani 26.4%
3 months later in mid-September Fred Thompson 23.5% vs. Rudy Giuliani 27.5%

The scary thing for Rudy is that the public already knows him, but Fred Thompson has much lower name recognition. That means Fred’s ceiling is probably significantly higher than Rudy’s ceiling.

* One of the biggest moments in the campaign for Fred Thompson will be his first debate (that’s the Oct 9th, CNBC/MSNBC/Wall Street Journal Debate) . Because he got in late and has gone out of his way to skip some debates, his performance will be intensely scrutinized and compared to his competitors who have already participated in a number of other debates. All I can say is that Fred had really better do some intense prep work because a lot of people will be forming lasting impressions of him based on how he does.

* I don’t know what kind of money Huckabee is raising, but if he has a really big third quarter, he could legitimately join the ranks of first tier contenders — IF, he has a really big third quarter. Unfortunately, if he can’t raise the money, he’s going to have a lot of trouble becoming competitive unless he pulls off a huge upset and wins Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina.

* Survey USA has been doing some fascinating head to head, state by state match-up polls between the Democratic and Republican contenders. The Ohio numbers are particularly interesting.

For example, Barack Obama bombs out in Ohio — except against, Mitt Romney.

Giuliani 52% vs. Obama 39%
Thompson 50% vs. Obama 42%
Romney 46% vs. Obama 45%

Hilldog does much better,

Giuliani 48% vs. Clinton 47%
Thompson 47% vs. Clinton 48%
Romney 42% vs. Clinton 52%

But the shocker is how well Edwards does,

Giuliani 48% vs. Edwards 47%
Thompson 43% vs. Edwards 52%
Romney 36% vs. Edwards 56%

They must have a thing for well coiffed men in Ohio.

But, the bad news for Republicans is that in Iowa, a swing state we won by 1 point in 2004, every Democratic candidate is currently beating every Republican candidate by at least 6 points. In New Mexico, another state the GOP won by a point in 2004, Clinton beats the big 3 contenders by anywhere from 8 to 15 points. In Virginia, a state the GOP won by 9 points, Clinton beats all the GOP contenders by at least 6 points.

While it’s a little early for polls to be particularly meaningful, there are three conclusions I think we can safely reach from the 8 states that Survey USA has run these polls in…

#1) The numbers are discouraging for the GOP. That means we have a lot of work to do.

#2) The top tier Democratic candidate who polls the best is John Edwards — by a lot.

#3) The top tier Republican candidate who polls the worst is Mitt Romney — by a lot.

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