A Look at South Carolina

It still looks like it's anyone's game for the Republicans.

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Recent South Carolina polls still show John McCain with a lead. In the Realclearpolitics.com average, he has 29 to 23 percent for Mike Huckabee, 16 percent for Mitt Romney, and 13 percent for Fred Thompson. Scott Rasmussen has conducted more surveys in the state than any other pollster. Here are his results with dates and an indication of which states have voted in between.

  McCain Huck Romney Thompson
January 16 24 24 18 16
MI primary January 15        
January 13 28 19 17 16
January 9 27 24 16 12
NH primary January 8        
January 6 21 28 15 11
Iowa caucus January 3        
Christmas        
December 16 12 23 23 12
December 3-4 9 25 18 18

Analysis: McCain clearly got a bump over Christmastime, as I have written on in this blog. Huckabee seems to have peaked right after the Iowa caucus, which he won, though he seems, oddly, to have gotten a bump out of Michigan—or was it McCain getting bumped down after his second-place finish? Romney has chugged along at about the same not particularly impressive level, which helps explain why this Michigan native and Massachusetts resident decamped from South Carolina to campaign for the Nevada caucuses. Thompson, declining in December, may be rising somewhat.

The bottom line is that a spread of 16 to 24 percent for the four leading candidates leaves room for any one of them to win or finish second.