A new poll by the American Research Group shows Rudy Giuliani “leading” Mitt Romney by a margin of 27 percent to 26 percent. Though this lead plainly is within the margin of error, it’s still good news for Rudy who been running well behind Romney in New Hampshire polls, including one last month by the same polling organization that had Romney leading him 27-16.
The American Research Group has consistently produced results far more favorable to John McCain than those in other polls, and it’s pretty clear what has happened in New Hampshire (according to ARG) — McCain has tanked and Giuliani is the beneficiary. In May, ARG had the race McCain 30, Romney 23, Giuliani 21. In June, it was Romney 27, McCain 21, Giuliani 19, Thompson 10. Now it’s Giuliani 27, Romney 26, Thompson 13, McCain 10. Thus, according to ARG, in two months McCain has dropped from 30 percent to 10 percent support and Giuliani has turned a 9 point deficit to Romney into a statistical dead heat.
ARG might be wrong, of course, but these results are quite plausible. It’s easy to believe that McCain’s support is eroding (and that ARG may have been over-stating it to begin with). It’s also easy to believe that McCain supporters in New Hampshire, who presumably consist mostly of moderate Republicans, are more likely to gravitate to Giuliani than to Romney or Thompson.
UPDATE: The implications of a Giuliani win, and a Romney defeat, in New Hampshire likely would be huge. If Romney carries the state, it will probably come on the heels of a win in Iowa. Thus, even if he still trailed Giuliani and/or Thompson in the national polls, he would be a major force and perhaps a co-frontruner. If Giuliani carries New Hampshire, he will have defeated Romney in Romney’s backyard and would be extremely well-positioned as the focus moved to large states like Florida where Giuliani seems strong.
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