The 2012 GOP presidential race will prove to be a big test for political polls, which have for months now helped define the story lines in the nomination fight.
Four years ago, they proved to be pretty a poor harbinger of what’s to come. If their Dec. 20, 2007, snapshot of the race had turned out to be true, Rudy Giuliani would’ve won the party’s nomination and Mitt Romney would’ve walked away with a victory in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. That didn’t happen.
Five days out from Christmas in 2007, Mr. Giuliani, former New York City mayor, was running in first place in national polls, while Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, sat in second. Mitt Romney was running third in the race, and Sen. John McCain, the eventual GOP nominee, was running in fourth, according to a realclearpolitics.com average of those polls.
Under that formula, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who sits fourth in national polls Tuesday, is poised to pull an upset and become the Republican nominee for president — putting her a step closer to becoming the first House member to jump directly into the White House since James A. Garfield pulled off the feat in 1880.
Meanwhile, the 2007 Iowa polls proved to be a more accurate forecast of what’s to come. With five days to go before Christmas, Mr. Huckabee led the state and he went on to win the state, shocking Mr. Romney.
If history repeats itself, Rep. Ron Paul will emerge victorious next month in the Iowa, where the Texas congressman holds a slight edge over Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in the latest average of polls.
It was a different story in New Hampshire in 2007, where polls showed Mr. Romney with a comfortable lead over his rivals in the state. But Mr. Romney went on to lose the first-in-the-nation primary to Mr. McCain.
Mr. Romney hopes to avoid a repeat this year in New Hampshire, where he holds a bigger lead this time around over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, his closest competitor.