Fresh national poll numbers from Rasmussen:
In the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination, it’s John McCain at 30%, Mitt Romney at 30%, and Mike Huckabee at 21%. Ron Paul is supported by 5% of Likely Republican Primary Voters…Romney leads by sixteen percentage points among conservatives while McCain has a two-to-one advantage among moderate Primary Voters…
…On the Republican side, Missouri and Tennessee are toss-ups while McCain leads in Alabama. McCain has a solid lead in the winner-take-all state of New Jersey and holds modest leads in California, Connecticut, and Illinois.
Here’s Mitt Romney’s road map for survival:
Operating in survival mode, Mr. Romney’s circle of advisers has come up with a detailed road map to try to salvage his campaign. The plan is complete with a new infusion of cash from Mr. Romney, a long-term strategy intended to turn the campaign into a protracted delegate fight and a reframing of the race as a one-on-one battle for the future of the party that seeks to sound the alarm among conservatives about Mr. McCain.
The advisers have drawn up a list of states, dividing and ranking them into those considered relatively easy and inexpensive targets, along with a broader grouping of more costly battlegrounds where the advisers hope that Mr. Romney can be competitive.
Some states like Arizona and Arkansas, the home states of Mr. McCain and Mike Huckabee, respectively, are largely written off.
The question is whether the planning, along with the campaign’s one trump card, the candidate’s vast wealth, can overcome the growing sense of inevitability that has begun to attach itself to Mr. McCain.
Complicating the outlook, Mr. Romney’s campaign has been racked by infighting over advertising strategy between some senior advisers, including some consultants who joined the campaign after leaving Mr. McCain’s.
Yeah, that’s a problem.
His advisers point to some signs of hope in an election cycle in which conventional wisdom has often been turned upside down. They say they are starting to see a groundswell of opposition to Mr. McCain among conservative leaders, as well as at the grass roots, especially on talk radio.
The day after Mr. Romney’s loss to Mr. McCain in Florida, his aides said, the campaign set a record for one-day online contributions, almost $400,000.
Mr. Romney’s advisers are also convinced that their mantra on the economy and bringing change to Washington and the economy remains compelling.
The campaign’s director of strategy, Alex Gage, sent a memorandum to supporters on Thursday that highlighted exit poll data from the previous nominating contests, saying just a few percentage points of support to Mr. Romney from conservatives would swing the nomination to him.
They’re focusing on California and hoping immigration enforcement supporters will come through:
Rob Stutzman, a senior adviser for the California campaign, said the Republican electorate there was traditionally quite conservative. Mr. Stutzman predicted that Mr. McCain would run into problems because of his moderate stance on illegal immigration.
“The immigration vulnerability is amplified in California for McCain,” he said.
Well, it might help if Romney would start talking about the difference between the company he keeps and the company McCain keeps, wouldn’t it?
Maine caucus results here.