Romney's Race to Lose?

Josh Marshall takes a closer look at the GOP primary polling and decides the nomination is Mitt "No Muslims Need Apply" Romney's to lose: "Each of the three states, Romney has been gaining support consistently and fairly rapidly since the beginning of 2007. In two of the three states, Giuliani has been trending downward with a similar pace and consistency. The exception is New Hampshire where Rudy has trended down a bit but basically held his own."

It seems to me, though, that this basically all comes down to what happens in Iowa. In particular, it comes down to what happens with the remaining Fred Thompson supporters once they realize that their man is in third place and slipping. At the moment, Huckabee and Romney are both trending upwards, but Huckabee is gaining on Romney because he's trending upwards faster. If the bulk of Thompson's remaining supporters (a not inconsiderable slice of the electorate) decide that Huckabee is the southern white Christian dude for them, then Huckabee stands a decent chance of pulling off an upset and Romney's in big trouble. But if they decide that they need to do the pragmatic "Stop Rudy" thing and vote for Romney, then it really does seem like Mitt winds up sweeping the early primary table and Giuliani's in big trouble.

All of which is fairly conventional wisdom, but it's striking when you get down to it exactly how helpful the Huckabee Surge has been to Giuliani. This is particularly noteworthy because the two candidates represent basically opposite tendencies within the conservative movement. It wouldn't shock me if you saw maxed-out Giuliani donors cutting Huckabee checks. Certainly, I think it'd be a savvy play.