An 11-point fall in 10 days — and he’s still up a point on Fred, whose ceiling appears to be 13%. What happened? I don’t think the security expenses scandal penetrated that far into the public consciousness. It’s more a case of him having not much new to say as Huckabee exploded and turned the campaign into a three-way (or two-way, really) “who’s the real social con?” contest. Rudy figured the more of those types there were dividing up votes between each other, the easier it would be for him to snatch a plurality from non-social cons. Instead, Huckabee soared so high, so fast, and in such an obnoxiously faux-innocent demagogic way that it left natural Rudy voters like me looking to Mitt as someone who could thwart Huck in the early states and split off social con votes before a huge block of them solidified behind Huck. Rudy shrugged off the early primaries counting on the fact that none of the candidates to his right would draw ardent support; he didn’t count on the fact that one of them would draw ardent opposition. That probably explains Mitt’s sudden rise and possibly McCain’s as well since, as centrist as he is, he’s sufficiently orthodox on abortion that he could challenge Huckabee for some social con votes more so than Rudy could if it came to that. Let’s hope it doesn’t.
Rudy’s best hope now, I guess, is (ironically) for Romney to come back and derail Huck by ekeing out a win in Iowa and then have McCain upset Mitt in New Hampshire. That would largely end the threat of a huge Christian conservative turnout for any one candidate and restore the sort of lukewarm equilibrium Giuliani needs to steal that plurality.
The boss is taking a poll on this now so go vote if you haven’t yet. Exit question one: Is Fred the only candidate who can prevent the coming crack-up? Exit question two: Can a Tom Tancredo fan tolerate one of her employees taking a second look at McCain? Let’s hope.
Update: I’m glad the holiday break is coming. It doesn’t even pay to try to make sense of this anymore.
Fred’s in fifth now, do note.