The South Carolina Republican primary is this Saturday, January 19. The latest poll in the state shows John McCain with a big lead over Mike Huckabee, and with Fred Thompson having dramatically increased his level of support:
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows McCain at 28%, Huckabee at 19%, Mitt Romney at 17%, and Fred Thompson at 16%. Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul are tied with 5% support. Giuliani is betting his entire campaign on a strong showing in Florida, where he is now tied for the lead with three others.
The current results show McCain getting some breathing room in South Carolina. The previous South Carolina poll, conducted the night after McCain’s victory in New Hampshire, had McCain at 27% and Huckabee at 24%. Before the New Hampshire vote, Huckabee was leading McCain by seven points. McCain and Huckabee are pulling away from the field nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
So in the four days between this poll and the previous one, Huckabee fell 5 points, Fred rose by 4, and McCain rose by just 1 point.
In other words, Fred Thompson is the only candidate with momentum in the state. In fact, he scored higher in this poll than in any other South Carolina poll in about 6 weeks.
Correction: Mike Huckabee has momentum as well; it's just that he's heading in the wrong direction.
There are 5 days between now and the vote. If Fred can move into second place -- difficult, but not impossible -- he will have achieved quite a lot in a very short time.
Clearly, if you want Fred to win the nomination, or if you've ever thought about donating, this is the time. A strong showing in South Carolina is essential to success in the contests that follow. And now you can see clearly that he has momentum. There's not been a moment in the race like this one for Fred, and there may not be later. If you want to help him succeed, then donate now and help ensure a big day in South Carolina this Saturday.
Fred's latest message:
Update: Also read Captain Ed, who notes that Thompson will need to cut into McCain's lead:
Thompson saved almost all of his ammunition for Mike Huckabee in that debate, but avoided criticizing his friend and mentor, McCain. That strategy may haunt him if he cannot gain more traction against McCain in South Carolina. He needs a strong finish in this state in order to gain credibility for his Super Tuesday run, especially since he's falling off the pace in Florida.
I'm not sure if he needs to carve a chunk out of McCain in South Carolina; it may be enough to be the story from the state. That is, if McCain finishes around 28 percent -- where he's polling now -- but Thompson can crack 20 percent and finish in second -- then Thompson will be the singular story of note. Particularly if Romney wins Michigan, McCain's campaign will have to answer questions about underperforming -- as Rich Lowry notes here.
Update II: Also read Sean Hackbarth, and Bob Krumm -- who has this to say:
The three latest polls as of a week ago today showed Huckabee up an average of 23 points over Fred (Insider Advantage +28, Rasmussen +17, and Survey USA +25). Today, the latest two polls show Huckabee’s lead over Fred has diminished to +5 and +3. In just five days since the Myrtle Beach debate Fred Thompson has gained an astounding 20 points on Mike Huckabee. No wonder Huckabee is lashing out at him.