At what point do we stop granting Giuliani the prestige of being called “the frontrunner”?  He receives this title on account of misleading national polls.  In the first four states, he is usually behind, in some cases quite badly.  In Iowa, he is tied for third.  Iin New Hampshire, he is at best a distant second.  In Michigan, he is barely leading the Michigan native Romney–it seems unlikely that he will retain that perch if he drops the first two states.  Accordng to the latest polling in South Carolina, his supposed “firewall” state, he is in fifth….behind McCain!  When McCain is beating you in South Carolina, it’s time to start thinking about another line of work.

Update: That Clemson poll is apparently worthless.  Earlier polls have shown Giuliani doing reasonably well, and now there is one showing him marginally in the lead.  The Clemson poll seems to have completely misrepresented the state of the Democratic race as well.  Via Michael Crowley.  I still think Giuliani’s chances are poor, but he probably isn’t doing as badly in South Carolina as he appeared to be. 

That is supposed to leave Romney and Huckabee (this week it’s a three-man race, when just weeks ago the former Arkansas governor was only considered half a candidate until voters started to have something to say about it).  Voters are now supposed to choose between a fraud and a huckster.  It seems improbable to me that Huckabee can win New Hampshire (Ross is right), and I don’t think he will even manage second place.  The trouble with any plan for Huckabee’s success is that Huckabee’s campaign will sooner or later start running out of money, and he doesn’t seem to be raising nearly enough to remain competitive.  Meanwhile, the candidates with the money seem to get less popular the more people have a chance to see them up close.  I suppose someone has to win, but it’s not at all clear to me how any of the current three in the “three-man race” do that.  Can one of the others take advantage of this?  At this point, I really have no idea.   

P.S.  I still don’t believe a Giuliani-Huckabee ticket will ever happen for some of the reasons stated above, but that idea that Ross floated many, many months ago looks a lot more clever today, while my dismissive retort to the same is looking rather less so.

P.P.S.  In case someone hasn’t already mentioned this, it’s worth noting that Huckabee’s leap to the top in Iowa makes the NRLC’s endorsement of Thompson look even worse and more bizarre than it already was.