As the GOP field gears up for another snoozer of a debate in Florida tonight, here are some interesting Rasmussen polling numbers from Georgia: Huckabee 34, McCain 19, Romney 16, Paul 12, Giuliani 11. Huckabee seems not to have been hurt by his second-place finish in South Carolina, and he has probably been helped by his active campaigning in Georgia earlier this week. Assuming this lead holds up, it may be that his decision to stop contending in Florida and focus on the states he has a much better chance of winning on Feb. 5 will turn out to be very smart. Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri, together with Georgia, offer Huckabee a possible 308 delegates, and he has definitely shown strength in Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia. Arkansas is presumably an easy win, and he should benefit in Missouri and Tennessee by coming from a neighbouring state. (The inevitable “he’s a Republican Jesse Jackson” jokes will follow soon thereafter.) The remarkable thing about this scenario is that come February 6th Huckabee could be in a competitive second place behind McCain, leaving Romney eating their dust.
It’s conceivable that a McCain win in Florida eats into Huckabee’s lead in Georgia, but I don’t see Romney turning around an 18 point deficit in a week and a half even if he prevails next Tuesday. Once again, Giuliani trails Ron Paul, even though Paul’s fav rating is almost forty points lower than Giuliani’s (an appalling piece of information, but there it is). It will quite strange if New Hampshire turns out to be one of a very few states where Giuliani received more votes than Paul, while Paul bests him almost everywhere else.