On the heels of polls showing Rudy dropping fast in New Hampshire and out of contention in Iowa, a a new poll finds him sinking fast in a third key state: South Carolina. The Clemson University poll finds Mitt Romney now taking the lead with 17%, followed by Fred Thompson at 15%, Mike Huckabee with 13%, John McCain at 11% — and Rudy at only 9%.
Rudy's advisors have been pushing a February 5 strategy, positing the idea that his national celebrity and post-9/11 prestige mean he can lose all the early contests but still win big on the national primary day. Romney, on the other hand, has focused heavily on those early states, following the traditionally accepted ideas of how to win the nomination.
Giuliani's advisors should be fired. Like, yesterday. Ru9/11dy isn't even a viable candidate anymore in Iowa or South Carolina, and is looking to get waterboarded by Romney in New Hampshire as well.
And about half of Giuliani's support is gonna bail like rats from a sinking ship, opting for the greener pastures of Romney-ville, while the current Thompsonites are gonna look at the broken, bloody remains of their candidate after he gets splattered all over the pavement in South Carolina and make a b-line for Huckabee (who, by the way, is today for the first time leading in Iowa). And by the end of February, we're going to be talking about the battle between the electoral giants Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, while no one's even gonna remember that Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson ever made a run at the Republican nomination.
Big news on the blue side, too: Hillary's lead in South Carolina has dissipated, and she's now statistically tied with Obama. Last time I checked she's hanging tough in New Hampshire, but there are now 2 openings for Obama (or, perhaps, Edwards) to knock off the presumptive frontrunner, as Obama pulled into the lead in Iowa last week. It looks like we're seeing a nationwide drift away from Clinton as the narrative hardens of Clinton as talking out of both sides of her mouth. My suspicion (and hope) is that it continues and one of the other two becomes a giantkiller this February, and again in November.