There's change at the top in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson earning support from 28% of Likely Republican Primary Voters. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani attracts support from 27%. While Thompson's one-point edge is statistically insignificant, it is the first time all year that anybody but Giuliani has been on top in Rasmussen Reports polling. A week ago, Thompson and Giuliani were tied at 24%.
It remains an open question as to how Thompson will hold up once he actually enters the campaign and has to compete directly with other candidates. To date, he retains the allure of the new kid in town while GOP voters already know the things they don't like about the others. Still, Thompson's rise to the top provides a telling measure of how the other GOP hopefuls have failed to capture the imagination of the party they hope to lead.
Once gain this week, Arizona Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are tied for a distant third. This week, both men attract 10% support. Last week, they were both at the 11% level of support. For McCain, this is a continuation of a downward trend. For Romney, it reflects a fairly steady position. Romney is doing well in selected state polls but has been unable to gain much traction and expand his support nationwide.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback are each the top choice for 2% of the likely voters.
The combined total for five other candidates in the race is just under 3%. Those candidates are Congressman Ron Paul, Congressman Tom Tancredo, former Governor Tommy Thompson, Congressman Duncan Hunter, and former Governor Jim Gilmore. Eighteen percent (18%) say they're not sure how they will vote.
This is the first Rasmussen Reports poll to exclude former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as a candidate. Gingrich earned 7% support in last week's polling but has recently made statements indicating he is not likely to enter the 2008 race as candidate.
Giuliani remains the most well-liked candidate in either party. He is viewed favorably by 82% of Republicans nationwide and unfavorably by 15%. Thompson, not as well known, is the only other candidate with so few Republicans holding an unfavorable opinion of him. The actor turned Senator turned actor again is viewed favorably by 59% of Republicans and unfavorably by 14%.
Among Republicans, Romney and McCain both have lower favorables and higher unfavorables than the frontrunners. For Romney, those GOP numbers are 56% favorable and 28% unfavorable. McCain, among the nation's best known political figures, is viewed favorably by 55% of Republicans and unfavorably by 40%.
While Giuliani is well liked, only 21% of Republicans view him as politically conservative. Twice as many, 42%, believe that Thompson is politically conservative.
Rasmussen Reports releases updated polling data on the Republican nominating contest every Tuesday. Results for the Democrats are updated on Mondays. The current survey is based upon national telephone interviews with 618 Likely Republican Primary Voters conducted June 11-14, 2007. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. The Rasmussen Reports sample includes not only Republicans, but also independents who say they are likely to vote in a Republican Primary.
In some states, independent voters are allowed to participate in Republican primaries. In others, only Republicans can participate. Among Republicans only in the current poll, it's Thompson 29% Giuliani 24% Romney 11% and McCain 10%.
McCain's recent decline in the polls has been tied closely to his support for the unpopular immigration reform bill. A Rasmussen Reports analysis of what happened to the McCain campaign noted that the man once considered a maverick is now the candidate most closely aligned with President Bush on two hot-button issues-the War in Iraq and immigration. That linkage is problematic when just 27% of voters nationwide say the President is doing a good or excellent job handling the situation in Iraq and only 15% give him favorable reviews on the immigration issue.
Talk Show America 6/20/2007