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From the Post Politics Hour

Every weekday at 11 AM members of the Post politics team take your questions on the 2008 campaign and what's happening on the trail. Today, Dan Balz took your questions. Here are a few exerpts:

Washington: Please help make sense of this morning's article on GOP voters not making up their minds for the presidential race yet. Rudy has double digit leads over the entire field. Someone like Huckabee is just breaking into 10 percent. Rudy has millions of dollars of cash on hand; the rest of the field is way behind. I am undecided today as well; does the logic of the article imply that someone like a Mike Huckabee can still be in this race and have a shot at getting the GOP nomination?

washingtonpost.com: Republican nomination most open in decades. (Post, Nov. 5)

Dan Balz: We'll start with this question, as it relates to a story that was on our front page this morning. The point of the article, as revealed by the poll, is that despite Mayor Guiliani's lead, he is anything but a secure frontrunner. Our polling director, Jon Cohen, went back and looked at polls of previous Republican nomination battles and found that this is the first time since 1979 that the GOP front-runner did not have more than 40 percent of his party's support. That was Reagan's election and, as many of us had forgotten, there was considerable sentiment within the Republican Party at that time for former President Ford to get into the race. Reagan led in the polls and ultimately won the nomination, but even as late as March 1980 lots of Republicans were hoping Ford would challenge him.

We've talked frequently about Giuliani's candidacy as one that has both defied early predictions that he couldn't sustain a serious bid for the nomination because of his support for abortion and gay rights and also that even as a front-runner, his support is soft. The logic of the article doesn't say explicitly that Governor Huckabee is likely to be the GOP nominee. I think he's still a long shot. But it is clear that Republican voters are still shopping.

St. Paul, Minn.: Hi Dan. Thanks for the excellent poll story the other day -- very sobering. If your reporting is accurate, it would appear that the public -- despite the president's exhortations -- isn't buying the idea that the surge is working and that we should stay in Iraq. With public opinion about the war and this president remaining so remarkably stable for many months on end, might we finally see some stronger action from the Democrats (i.e. cutting off funding) or is that still deemed too risky this close to the election?

Dan Balz: There is a modest increase in the percentage of people who believe the United States is making progress toward restoring civil order in Iraq, according to our new poll. They are still in the minority (39 percent said yes, 59 percent said no). Last December, before the surge was announced, those numbers were 31 percent saying the U.S. was making significant progress and 66 percent who said no.

On the question of withdrawing troops, 60 percent said they believe the number of troops should be decreased, compared with 9 percent who said they favored sending more troops. When we asked a follow-up question, we found that 17 precent said they want all troops removed immediately and 42 percent said they want a more gradual withdrawal. Last January, 15 percent said withdraw them immediately and 46 percent said do so gradually.

Seattle: What's with the media's love-affair with Huckabee? As a former Little Rock resident, I can't understand it. Sure, he can be affable, but he's famous in Arkansas for snubbing the media and his critics at all chances, for corruption, and for a hard-line evangelical agenda that he hides behind disarming rhetoric. He even said at a debate that he doesn't believe in evolution. Has anyone in the media looked at this side of him?

Dan Balz: I wouldn't call it a love affair by any means. What has been striking is that, in a field of candidates that lacks someone who pretty much agrees with the social conservatives in the party, Huckabee is one who does. And he has been gaining ground in Iowa, where religious and social conservatives are strong. He is still a long shot for the nomination, as I mentioned in an earlier answer, but he may embarrass some of the better know candidates. Candidates in single digits rarely get the kind of scrutiny that those at the top of the field are subjected to. If he ends up in that situation, I'm sure his views and record will get much more scrubbing.

By Post Editor  |  November 5, 2007; 12:17 PM ET
 
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Comments

No matter the media's game, they haven't been able to make any dirt "stick" on Huckabee yet. Not if they let him answer... :-)

----
Like Mike? Sign The Huckabee Petition!
http://www.iwouldvoteforhuckabee.com

Posted by: iwouldvoteforhuckabee | November 5, 2007 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Balz apologizes for the media not paying attention to positions here and he is one of the problems. A person asks about Huckabee's statement that he doesn't believe in evolution and Balz says in essence if the media can build Huckabee up to be a contender then they will focus on him to try to tear him down. What a joke, but unfortunately the reality. The media tried to make Obama a contender, that didn't work so now they are trying to tear Hillary down to help bring others up to make the race something they can write about.

Unfortunately they don't ever do it by talking about policy but about personality- really a sad state of affairs when the public really should be able to count on the media to report on policy positions.

Posted by: peterdc | November 5, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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