Huckabee and Giuliani are in a virtual dead heat, a new poll shows.
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Mike Huckabee’s dramatic jump in the polls is going nationwide. The former Arkansas governor is in a virtual tie with Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll out Monday.
Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, is backed by 24 percent of Republican voters nationally while Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is at 22 percent.
With the two-point difference well within the survey’s sampling error of 5 percentage points, Huckabee is in a virtual tie with Giuliani.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is at 16 percent in the new poll, followed by Sen. John McCain of Arizona at 12 percent, Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee at 10 percent, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 6 percent, Congressman Duncan Hunter of California at 2 percent and Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado at 1 percent. Complete poll results (pdf)
The poll, conducted December 6-9, involved nationwide telephone interviews with 377 registered voters, including Republicans and independent voters who lean Republican.
Huckabee is now the front-runner in the polls in Iowa, the first state to vote in the presidential primary process, taking the top spot from Romney, and he's also jumped dramatically in South Carolina, the first southern state to vote.
Now he appears to be on the rise in national surveys as well. Two countrywide polls last week, Gallup/USA Today and Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg, put him in second place, a prelude to the results in the new CNN survey.
Huckabee doubled his support in October and doubled it again in November, going from 5 percent in October to double digits last month to over 20 percent this month, in the CNN poll.
"Huckabee's strength so far may be a positive, values-oriented message," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "He ranks first when GOP voters are asked who shares their Republican values and who has spent the least time criticizing his opponents. He also scores well on likeability and believability, although Giuliani beats him on those measures.
Huckabee's Achilles' heel?
"Experience," Holland said. "Huckabee places fourth, behind Giuliani, McCain and Romney, when Republicans are asked to rate the GOP candidates on experience."
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser