Could a new Republican emerge for the nomination?

Rasmussen Reports is putting out the assertion that Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson all have a single niche in the Republican nomination:

Three candidates each hold one piece of the puzzle needed to capture the nomination.

· Thompson is currently seen by Republican voters as the most politically conservative candidate, clearly an asset in a party where more than 60% of Primary Voters are politically conservative.

· Rudy Giuliani is seen by the GOP voters as the most electable Republican candidate.

· Mitt Romney has pursued a different strategy. While struggling in the national polls, he has built a solid organization and is leading in the Iowa caucus, the New Hampshire primary, and other early states.

In other words, not a single top-tier Republican candidate has captured the nomination appealing to all portions of the Republican electorate.

At this point, it is possible to envision how each of the three could lose their particular advantage as the campaign unfolds. Any hint that Giuliani is not the best candidate to win in November could doom his campaign. Any serious challenge to Thompson’s conservative credentials could do the same to him. Anything less than decisive wins in Iowa and New Hampshire could mean the end for Romney’s team.

The bottom line is that as of right now, Democrats have basically united behind Hillary Clinton. Sure, Obama has some “excitement” around him but that will fade as Hillary wins all the primaries and becomes the nominee.

Republicans are still quite undecided and not ready to commit. Fred Thompson got a bump after his announcement, now at 28% versus Giuliani’s 19% according to Rasmussen, however, he hasn’t made the kind of splash many people thought he would.

With this kind of situation, does this present the opportunity for a Mike Huckabee or a (gasp) Ron Paul to emerge as the dark horse candidate? Huckabee is quietly gaining popularity and likability. Though people may not be supporting him, he is generally liked among Republican voters.

Of course, this could change drastically in a month so it’s probably way too early to tell.