Monday, March 12, 2007

Who Are the 17%?

A CNN/Opinion Research Corportation poll released today shows why, contrary to what the media is making it appear, the primaries are still eleven months away--

Rudy Giuliani - 34
John McCain - 18
Newt Gingrich - 9
Mitt Romney - 9
George Pataki - 3
Jim Gilmore - 2
Sam Brownback - 2
Chuck Hagel - 2
Ron Paul - 2
Mike Huckabee - 1
Tom Tancredo - 1
Tommy Thompson - 1
Duncan Hunter -

Rudy still holds a commanding lead over McCain and the rest of the pack despite a poor showing in the CPAC straw poll and a virtual disappearance from the public spotlight and campaign trail. Gingrich, although still not an official candidate, also steals a respectable sampling of the vote. Once again, nothing new here.

Lesser known candidates such as Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee currently fall into the polling no man's land with low single-digit figures. Between the two, a 3% representation in polls raises an intriguing question; where is the evangelical vote going?

The answer rests quietly at the bottom of the poll. Assuming that a small percentage of evangelicals shove aside their religious inclinations and chose to support Rudy, McCain, or Romney, the 17% of voters who are unsure matches up quite closely with the 23% of voters in the 2004 Presidential Election who identified themselves as evangelicals.

What kind of impact will this demographic have in the coming months? A huge one. Though Huckabee and Brownback may have to fight it out, my bets are on Mike Huckabee grabbing the support of the religious right and having his new support from social conservatives throw him into the front tier of candidates. It may seem unlikely now, but there will be a time when the Republican base will realize Giuliani and Co. don't agree with core conservative social values as much as would be desired.

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