In an internal poll, ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney holds a whopping 17 point lead over the rest of the Republican field, further evidence to Romney's senior staff that his organizational prowess and early support in Iowa scared challengers John McCain and Rudy Giuliani away.
The poll, conducted by Romney's pollster and distributed to top campaign officials last week, shows Romney with 29 percent, followed by Giuliani and "Undecided" with 12 percent each. Fred Thompson receives 10 percent in Romney's poll. McCain receives 9 percent.
Analysis from Alex Gage, a Romney consultant:
Gov. Romney’s ratings are extremely favorable in the state—78% of caucus-goers have a
favorable impression of him with only 10% having an unfavorable impression. The
Governor’s favorables have increased by 10 points over the past two months. By
comparison, Giuliani’s favorability rating has decreased by a net of 15 points since March,
and McCain’s has dropped by a net of 11 points.
McCain has a 58 percent favorability rating. Giuliani's fav rating is 71%.
Separately, Romney's spokesman, Kevin Madden, said tonight that Romney did not plan to abandon the Ames straw poll.
“Our plan all along has been to play in the Iowa straw poll, and that hasn’t changed. Campaigns that have decided to abandon Ames are likely doing so out of a recognition that their organizations are outmatched and their message falls flat with Republican voters in Iowa. It looks as if we just beat those campaigns in Iowa two months earlier than we had planned on beating them.”
Romney, in New Hampshire after a marathon day of campaigning, could not resist gloating. Per the Politico's JMart:
"You won't believe this," Romney told hundreds of activists gathered for a party fundraising dinner. "Today, both Sen. McCain and Rudy Giuliani have withdrawn from the Ames straw poll. And the head of the Republican Party of Iowa said, 'I guess they saw the handwriting on wall.'"
"Well," Romney continued, "they're going to see more handwriting on the wall like that."
"We're going to win this nomination and the presidency," he said to loud applause.