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Election 2008: A (Republican) Presidential Primer

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On Monday, we previewed the Democratic candidates in the run up to the Feb. 5 California Primary and Jan. 31 Iowa Caucus. Today, we'll look at each Republican candidate vying to be the leader of the GOP world as we prepare to profile all candidates on a deeper level than this brief glimpse allows.

All poll numbers cited are from, unless otherwise noted, and are current as of Dec. 2. While we will provide numbers from California, Iowa and the Nation, things could change drastically after the Iowa Caucus, when some candidates might drop out, freeing up money and resources for others. In other words, just because someone might have a big lead now in California, doesn't necessarily mean they will come February. Abraham Lincoln, that astute political observer, once said, Politics moves faster than a sprinter on speed. Alas, today's poll numbers are yesterday's news. Nonetheless...

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Rudy Giuliani

Age: 63

Current/Immediate Past Position: Former Mayor of New York City

Where He Stands: Giuliani has a commanding lead in California, where his moderate approach sits well with many California Republicans. He is polling just above 30%, more than 15% above the next highest competitor, John McCain. Iowa is a different story where Giuliani's support has plummeted to 13%. He now sits third behind Mitt Romney and a surging Mike Huckabee. Nationally, he is well ahead of his peers, but a new LA Times/Bloomberg poll shows that his support is slipping to 23%, nine points less than where his numbers stood two months ago.

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Mike Huckabee

Age: 52

Current Position: Governor of Arkansas

Where He Stands: Huckabee's skyrocketing campaign has garnered national attention which, in turn has helped shoot his poll numbers higher than they have ever been. The ascendant campaign hasn't swept across California, though, as the Gov. sits in fourth place with less than 9% of the vote. But in Iowa, where he is suddenly all the rage, Huckabee now polls second, about three percentage points behind Mitt Romney. This has, in turn, helped him nationally, where Huckabee's support has climbed above the 11% mark and is the only candidate among the majors whose campaign is gaining support quickly.

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Duncan Hunter

Age: 59

Current Position: Congressman representing California's 52nd, which covers some parts of San Diego.

Where He Stands: While Hunter's poll numbers are rarely above 1 or 2 percent, he did win a Texas straw poll in September. That sounds impressive, except that was back when Thompson hadn't even entered the race and the top tier candidates didn't even show up to troll for votes. But at least he gets to talk about all the things his wife is probably sick of hearing, like how he built that fence on the border of Mexico and the U.S.

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John McCain

Age: 71

Current Position: Senator from Arizona

Where He Stands: The Arizona Senator shot out of the gates quickly when the campaign first got under way, mostly due to the memory of his no-nonsense, ruff riding, such and such Straight Talk Express that nearly derailed the candidacy of George Bush in 2000. But seven years and a whole new crop of candidates later, McCain's candidacy looks less like the express and more a meandering joy ride. has him second in California at 14%, behind Giuliani. But, once again, Iowa may tell the tale as McCain is mired in single digit (6%) numbers behind all the front runners and nearly tied with Ron Paul. Nationally, he remains in a statistical dead heat with Thompson, both middling at 14%.


Ron Paul

Age: 72

Current Position: Congressman representing the Texas 14th

Where He Stands: Ron Paul's rise to prominence has been fueled by a fresh brand of honesty that has individuals from both parties sidling up to his campaign and represents the strongest threat to woo independent voters so crucial in elections. But, he is still a second tier candidate, exemplified by his single digit polling numbers in California (4%), Iowa (5%) and the nation (5%). But his numbers don't tell the whole story, as his campaign has consistently won online debate polls and have prompted some to call him an 'online natural'. As the caucus draws near in Iowa, and New Hampshire after that, Paul's independent streak could strike a chord with many voters there.


Mitt Romney

Age: 60

Current Position: Former Governor of Massachusetts

Where He Stands: Traversing the country with his anti-illegal immigrant message and reviving fears that we are in another cold war, Romney biggest challenge has been convincing people this his Mormon faith is not a bastion of polygamy or a cult. He plans to address that very issue Thursday, though it might do little to sway voters. As it is, Romney consistently ranks second in California (15%) to Giuliani but leads many of the polls in Iowa, where he stands at about 27%, with Huckabee breathing down his tightly buttoned collar. Nationally, Romney enjoys double digit numbers (12%), but sits well behind the front runners. If he wins Iowa, that could change. If he doesn't, Giuliani will surely benefit.


Tom Tancredo

Age: 61

Current Position: Congressman representing Colorado's 6th district.

Where He Stands: Tancredo's campaign has barely made a whimper. While he has won his share of straw polls and garnered support from conservatives who believe he would actually govern as a "true conservative," his poll numbers are generally in the 1% to 2% range, or nothing, as a Washington Post-ABC News Pollrecently found. Tancredo's inability to gain wide-spread support has been chalked up to anything from his speaking ability to his strong conservatism which some feel is one-sided and out of touch with many mainstream and independent voters. I think they can thank Bush for that, who pretty much squandered the goodwill, or at least tolerance that many extended toward hardcore conservatives who used to stand for things like "family values" and small government.


Fred Thompson

Age: 65

Current Position: Former Tennessee Senator

Where He Stands: While Thompson was home diddling his hot wife, the rest of the candidates were out campaigning. Some hoped that the conservative former Senator with a face that could intimidate an atom bomb would rally the troops and inspire a sense of Reagan-ism some in the Republican Party feel it lacks. Instead, his support has wavered as he has been accused of everything from not having a large grasp of the issues to straight boredom. Thompson is a solid fourth place candidate where in California (13%), Iowa (10%) and the country (14%) he sits behind three front runners. Iowa might not be the end of his campaign but New Hampshire sure could blow some deathly winds as he has less than 3% of the vote there.

Even if Iowa does not work out for any one of the seven who will not win the caucus, different voters in different states, like Nevada and South Carolina, will present a larger picture of how the nominee might be than Midwest voters can paint. From Jan. 3 to Feb. 5, when more than 20 states will hold primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday, the nominee should be decided in month crazy ass month of balloting and campaigning. Iowa could eliminate candidates, but Super Tuesday could decide who the nominee might be.