With the second debate just hours away, let us take a moment to reflect on what has happened since the last debate.
Two weeks ago, John McCain gave an impressive performance in California at the first Republican debate. He declared that he would "follow Osama to the gates of hell" and would veto pork-laden legislation and "make its authors famous". Pundits took notice. The National Review asserted that "McCain has stolen Rudy's fire" and a CEO of Red State, Erick Erickson, would "vote for John McCain, if the primary was today."
But the pundits weren't the only people to take notice. May polls showed an increase in support for McCain among Republicans and a decrease in support for his opponents. Want proof?
A Mason-Dixon poll now has McCain leading Nevada, the state that may go before Super Super Tuesday and after the Big 3. McCain leads with 19%.
In California, a state that has so far been a Giuliani stronghold, McCain has dramatically edged Giuliani's lead down to a mere 3% or a statistical tie.
In a national primary, among Republican primary voters, McCain stays within 4% of Giuliani and both increase their leads over Mitt Romney, who is stuck at single digits. Without Fred Thompson, McCain and Giuliani both garner over 30% of the vote. Most importantly, the ARG poll has McCain reclaiming the support of independent conservatives (support among indep. McCain: 46% Giuliani: 21%).
Another CNN poll, with Fred Thompson, has McCain within 2% of the leader, Giuliani.
And who can forget these numbers in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina (click to enlarge):
So what's the point? We may look back to the first debate in California to the time that John McCain first began close in on Giuliani........and with a strong showing tonight, we may be looking back to May 15, 2007 as the date that John McCain "won" the nomination.