As the candidates prepare to enter the final month of pre-election campaigning, today's Michael Barone column provides a noteworthy summary of the current state of the presidential race . Here's Barone:
Six weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, the presidential race looks more uncertain than ever. Only last week did the schedule of contests become certain: The day before Thanksgiving, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner set the state's primary on Jan. 8, and the day before that, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Michigan primary can proceed on Jan. 15. Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani continue to lead the competitions in national polls and in the large states, but on the Democratic side, there is a virtual three-way tie in Iowa, and on the Republican side, Mitt Romney leads in Iowa and New Hampshire. As for the general election, national polls show Democrats generally doing better than Republicans, but recent Rasmussen and Mason-Dixon polls show Hillary Clinton trailing in what was, in 2000 and 2004, the key state of Florida.
It's worth noting that Barone sides with Bill Kristol on the whole question of whether or not all five of the top GOP candidates conceivably could get the nomination. (Fred Barnes and John Podhoretz argue that the race is a two-man contest between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.)
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