As the final four GOP nominees prepare for this week's debate in Arizona, it's still anyone's guess as to who the eventual candidate will be.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum appear to be swapping places. Newt Gingrich has been relatively quiet. And one report from CNN says Ron Paul may have hit his ceiling.
All four Republican presidential hopefuls have jointly suffered from an increasing Republican anxiety about the field.
The latest CNN/ORC poll, conducted a week ago, shows 55 (percent) of Republicans are satisfied with their presidential candidates, down 11 points from October 2011.
Arizona's debate matters.
It could be an oasis for Gingrich's regularly in-debt campaign, providing an audience of millions for the price of a plane flight and a hotel room. Debates are usually terra firma for Gingrich, who has an instinct for the jugular and a way of channeling the anger and frustration of the Republican right. His assaults on the media and on President Barack Obama have regularly drawn sustained applause and sometimes standing O's from debate audiences.
The race for the GOP candidacy has been up and down to say the least. A Gallup's daily tracking poll on the Republican presidential race, according to the Huffington Post, showed former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) moving ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by eight percentage points (36 to 28 percent) nationwide. Santorum has gained 20 points in 12 days.
From the report:
Thirteen days earlier, on February 7, Romney led with 37 percent in Gallup's tracking poll, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (21 percent) and Santorum (17 percent).
On January 27, Gingrich led Romney, 32 to 26 percent.
Twelve days before that, on January 15, Romney led Gingrich, 37 to 14 percent.
And that's just the last two months. Gallup reports that the lead switched seven times more in 2011.
Why the volatility? Take a look at our quick take via video, drawing on this earlier Huffington Post report.
Up next are GOP primaries in Michigan and Arizona on Feb. 28. South Carolina is also set to hold its Democratic primary that day, too. The trifecta of primaries, depending on who wins, could cloud the nominee picture even more than it already is.
St. Charles County Patch sites are now polling readers to gauge their interest in the election, its candidates and what issues are most important to them. This poll will be published each week until the end of the election season.
We hope these numbers will provide insight into how attitudes and ideologies shifted throughout what seems sure to be a cutthroat political atmosphere.
For more on the candidates, CLICK HERE.