Four separate polls tell a similar story: Rudy remains the frontrunner nationally but will face stiff competition in early states, Mitt Romney is showing progress but has limited appeal so far outside the earliest primary states, Fred Thompson has slipped somewhat, John McCain is sliding from the first tier and Huckabee shows movement. Nationally, the Fox poll shows Rudy expanding to a 15% lead, up two pts, with Fred down and Romney up two, McCain down nine, and Huckabee still at 3%. In Iowa, Strategic Vision gives Romney an Ames straw poll bounce now up to 31% with Huckabee similarly boosted, now up to 8% and tied with McCain. Non-Ames competitors Rudy and Thompson show minor slippage. In Pennsylvania Quinnipiac shows that Rudy is up 2 to 31%, McCain down 3 (to 13%) and Thompson down 6 (to 8%), and Romney up 4 but still at 7%. In South Carolina Rasmussen shows Thompson narrowly ahead 23% to 21% over Rudy, McCain at 14%, Romney at 10% and Huckabee at 6%. Does Romney's weakness outside of Iowa (and New Hampshire) show he can't compete unless he has dominated the air waves and devoted more time than any candidate or is it a function of voters in other states not knowing him well enough? Is McCain's demise what has helped Rudy keep or boost his numbers? Does Fred's prolonged entry mean he's permanently lost momentum or is he just in the summer lull before his official announcement? And is the Huckabee bounce for real –and a real problem for Thompson and Romney fighting for social conservative votes — or just the result of MSM and blogger swarm coverage? My own view: 1) Rudy and Romney are running excellent campaigns and are consequently doing well in the polls. 2) McCain has one issue on which to re-establish his bona fides with conservatives(the Iraq surge) and three states to make his stand (New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina) but the odds and momentum are against him. 3) Thompson has a brief window in September with an announcement and a debate or two (will he enter just late enough to "miss" the New Hampshire debate on September 5 and also set up a deadline to avoid financial disclosures until January?) to make a very good impression or he'll be in Romney's rear window rather quickly.4) Huckabee will make it somewhat more difficult for a more viable candidate like Romney or Thompson to catch Rudy. However, and it's a big however, campaigns matter because they test candidates and organizations and the unexpected often happens. That's why a longer campaign season isn't all bad and why pundits are often wrong.