For months, Mitt Romney has been the front-runner to win the GOP nomination for president . Poll after poll had Romney with double digit leads over Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul. But it took only a week of campaigning for Rick Perry to claim a double digit lead of his own in the race.
The latest Gallup poll shows Perry with a 29-17 lead over Romney. Paul was the preference of 13% of the voters, while Bachmann was the preference of 10%. The quick shift in voter's preferences indicate what a weak frontrunner Romney was.
The biggest lesson in these poll numbers though, should be for Perry. And that lesson is: easy come, easy go. At this point in 2007 Rudy Guiliani had 29 percent of the Republican vote. It didn't work out for Rudy. Similarly, Fred Thompson jumped into the 2008 race late and rocketed up the polls. It didn't work out for Fred. And Wesley Clark jumped late into the 2004 race on the Democratic side. It didn't work out for Clark.
Convential wisdom suggests that if a candidate is going to get in the race with a reasonable chance at winning the nomination, he or she would have to do so by the end of September. However, Mark McKinnon, who advised both George W. Bush and John McCain, told me that in today's media environment a candidate could jump in the race as late as December and still win the nomination.
Who could jump in the race that late and steal Perry's thunder? Chris Christie? Sarah Palin? Jeb Bush? Rudy Guiliani? Incidentally, the Gallup poll included Palin and Guiliani as a choice in one of the polls. Palin was the preference for 11% of voters and Guiliani the preference of 9%.