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February 2, 2008

Romney Rising?

Amidst all of the stormy polling clouds, a little ray of sunshine has broken over the Romney campaign. Rasmussen shows Romney slowly climbing into a tie nationwide with John McCain in its daily tracking poll. It also shows John McCain gaining strength at the same time:

In the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination, it’s John McCain at 30%, Mitt Romney at 30%, and Mike Huckabee at 21%. Ron Paul is supported by 5% of Likely Republican Primary Voters (see recent daily numbers). Romney leads by sixteen percentage points among conservatives while McCain has a two-to-one advantage among moderate Primary Voters.

Today is the first day of daily tracking for the general election. McCain leads Clinton 47% to 41%. A week ago McCain had an eight point advantage. New match-ups will be added in the coming days.

It seems odd, but for this week we're back to national polling. Too many states go to the polls at the same time to get good last-minute predictive polling in each. Real Clear Politics has a good spread of recent polling, but the national pollsters will probably focus on just the largest and most critical states.

The question will be whether McCain damaged himself in Wednesday's debate enough to slow down his momentum across the board, if at all. Almost all of the existing polling was taken before the debate and also before the big push from talk radio against McCain. No mechanisms will exist to measure the effect of the late developments in the race in each state, but Rasmussen and other daily tracking polls could give an indication of an overall trend that could relate at least directly to trends in each state.

If McCain loses any ground in the next couple of days -- a big "if" -- the question will be whether it will overcome the head start he had on Romney coming out of his wins in South Carolina and Florida. The Rasmussen survey gives a ray of hope that Romney has a chance to catch up.

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