For the first time in nearly 30 years, there is no breakaway front-runner for the Republican nomination for presidential candidate as the first votes of Campaign 2008 loom.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll, released here Monday, underscores how open the GOP race remains.
Former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani maintains a double-digit lead over his main rivals, but most of his supporters back his candidacy only "somewhat," and he has yet to gain momentum among key primary voting groups or to distinguish himself as the best candidate for the party.
Adding to the murkiness of the race, Republicans continue to be less satisfied with their candidate options than Democrats are with theirs.
In the new poll, a third of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they would vote for Giuliani if their state's primary or caucus were held today.
That puts him 14 percentage points ahead of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and 17 points ahead of former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.).
Eleven percent said they would vote for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and 9 percent support former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Not since 1979 has the leading Republican candidate had less than 40 percent support in national polls in the November before an election year.
That year Ronald Reagan was the early poll leader, as Giuliani is today, and he went on to win the Republican nomination and the presidency.
This year's GOP race is notable also because the national poll leader, this time Giuliani, does not lead in either of the first two states to hold contests next year.
Romney leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire, according to state polls, with New Hampshire appearing exceedingly close.
In comparison, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) leads the race for the Democratic nomination with 49 percent, followed by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) at 26 percent.
Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) has 12 percent.