It’s early to pick out favorites for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, but a Colorado congressman best known for his blistering critiques of lax immigration policies is two for two in head-to-head match-ups with some big names in the Republican Party.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., handily defeated conservative talk-show icon Rush Limbaugh in an online poll on who would make the best Republican candidate for president in 2008.

Earlier, he beat Sen. John McCain, a presidential contender in 2000, by an even bigger margin.

Tancredo is the chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus and a leader of those calling for immediate and dramatic policy changes to restrict illegal traffic over the borders. Limbaugh is America’s most popular radio talk-show host with more than 20 million listeners every week and is considered a kingmaker for the Republican Party.

The poll is organized by a St. Louis Republican survey company that specializes in automated polling. Survey Saint Louis has been commissioned by Bush-Cheney ’04, the Republican National Committee and several statewide candidates in Missouri.

The Tancredo-Limbaugh match-up is part of the company’s “Presidential March Madness” sweepstakes that began March 17 with pair-ups of 64 possible candidates for the GOP nomination in 2008. In the first round, Tancredo beat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., 73.9 percent to 26.1 percent with more than 2,000 votes cast. Final voting in the Tancredo vs. Limbaugh contest gave the congressman a 70 percent to 30 percent edge with more than 4,200 votes cast.

Tancredo has been the biggest vote-getter in the contest to date.

Each day through April 4, new surveys winnow the candidates down to a single mock GOP nominee.

In the first round, Rudy Giuliani defeated Gary Bauer, Newt Gingrich knocked off Bob Ehrlich, John Sununu overcame Jack Kemp, Rick Santorum beat Christi Todd Whitman, Dennis Hastert over Mike Rounds, Mitt Romney undermined Dan Quayle, Tom Ridge beat Dirk Kempthorne, George Pataki defeated Craig Benson, Norm Coleman whipped John Kyl, John Thune shocked and awed Gen. Tommy Franks, Haley Barbour bounced J. Kennet Blackwell, Lindsey Graham conquered Chuck Hagel, Marc Racicot rocked Bob Taft and Pat Buchanan terminated Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Voting today will pit Bill Frist vs. Sean Hannity, Tom Coburn vs. Mitch Daniels, Elizabeth Dole vs. Colin Powell, Tommy Thompson vs. Jeb Bush, Condoleezza Rice vs. Roy Blunt, Chuck Grassley vs. Sam Brownback, Bill Owens vs. Tim Pawlenty and J.C. Watts vs. George Allen.

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