Huckabee surges to second in AP national poll, mostly at Fred's expense

That would be the fourth national poll in a row where he has at least sole possession of second. In Rasmussen, he’s first, of course. Mitt still looks like a lock in New Hampshire, though, which would blunt the effect of a Huck upset in Iowa (where they’re neck and neck) and make South Carolina the scene of a showdown for the social conservative. Things aren’t trending Mitt’s way there but we’ll see next week if the speech changed that.

Where does all this leave Fred, though? If he finishes third among social cons behind Huck and Mitt in Iowa, which seems almost certain to be the case, and then Mitt takes New Hampshire, they both roll into South Carolina with a win and momentum under their belt and Fred with … what? Thanks to Huck, he doesn’t have the southern advantage anymore.

Is this … Appomattox?

Mike Huckabee has vaulted from nowhere into second place in the Republican presidential race, riding a burst of support from evangelicals, Southerners and conservatives, a poll showed Friday.

The upsurge by the former Arkansas governor has come largely at the expense of Fred Thompson, according to the national survey by the Associated Press and Ipsos. Thompson has dropped after failing to galvanize the party’s right-wing core as much as some had expected…

The poll showed Giuliani at 26% among Republican and GOP-leaning voters, about where he has been since spring. Huckabee has 18%, 8 percentage points more than in an AP-Ipsos survey a month ago.

Just a month ago in the GOP race, Thompson was in second place with 19%. Along with his 8 percentage point drop in total support since then, his backing from conservatives also has fallen, though his support from evangelicals and Southerners has stayed roughly the same. In all three categories, he now trails Huckabee.

He’s now down to single digits in the new Rasmussen daily national poll, too, and his informal advisor seems warm to the prospect of a Huckabee victory. Says Huck, “I meet all the criteria. I’m conservative, but I think I appeal to a broader set of voters. And I think that people are also looking for someone with whom they can identify.” Exit question: What does he mean by that last line? Identify with as blue collar? Or something else?

Update: Awesome.