He was a straight-talking, thrice-married national celebrity New Yorker, often on TV — proud of his country, tough on crime and terrorism. Though his historical position on social issues was tough to pin down, and his own social life the subject of titillating gossip, the prospect of his presidency ignited enthusiasm among many Republicans.
By the end of July, 15 months before the general election, his support among Republicans had grown to 25-33 percent in major polls. It was thought his track record of success, and larger-than-life persona would trump all the other nominee-wannabes.
But former Mayor Rudy Giuliani did not become president of the United States, nor even his party’s nominee. Nor did actor/Senator Fred Thompson, who finished July 2007 in second place, at 19-25 percent in the polls. Arizona Sen. John McCain, barely in double digits at this stage of the race, stood on the stage in St. Paul, Minnesota, the following year to receive the RNC mantle.
Fast forward to July 2011: The eventual 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, did indeed lead the polls, but not far ahead of Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann. The conservative firebrand melted away around the turn of the year, and the libertarian physician survived to the end, but only barely.
My point is not to make direct comparisons between the positions, personalities and prospects of anyone going into 2016, but merely to say that the only unchanging principle in presidential polls is the near inevitability of change.