Former Gov. Mike Huckabee

Rasmussen Reports, a top political polling firm, is adding former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to its daily tracking of top tier GOP presidential candidates following a surge that pushed him past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Rasmussen – the nation’s most accurate polling firm during the 2004 presidential election and the only one to project both Bush and Kerry vote totals to within half a percent of their actual outcomes – said today “for the first time ever,” Huckabee moved into the top four.

“Rudy Giuliani remains precariously atop the pack with support from 20 percent of Likely Republican Primary Voters nationwide. Fred Thompson is close behind at 19 percent while John McCain enjoys a second straight day in third place with 14 percent of the vote,” the report said.

“Huckabee continues to gain ground and is just two points behind McCain at 12 percent. This is the first time all year that Huckabee has surpassed Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor slipped another point and he is now at just 11 percent nationally,” Rasmussen said.

Because of the surge, “Rasmussen Reports will add his results to the daily tracking history table starting on Monday,” the election analysts said.

In addition to the nationwide results, Rasmussen said, Huckabee, along with Romney and McCain, could derive good news from the state poll for New Hampshire, where Thompson was in decline.

“Currently, Giuliani and Thompson lead in national polls; Romney and Huckabee lead in Iowa; and Romney and Giuliani lead in New Hampshire. Thompson is seen as the most conservative candidate and Giuliani still holds a slight edge as the most electable. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, most voters say they could still change their mind before voting. The Republican race is wide open,” the report said.

The company’s results are from survey interviews conducted over the four previous days, and each update includes about 600-650 likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error for the polls is plus-or-minus 4 percent, while the confidence level is 95 percent.

Michael Barone, senior writer for U.S. News & World Report and co-author of “The Almanac of American Politics,” noted that the Republican victory in 2004 and the Democrat victory in 2006 show one thing: “The best place to look for polls that are spot on is”

“There is no question Rasmussen produces some of the most accurate and reliable polls in the country today,” added University of Virginia Prof. Larry Sabato.

The Huckabee poll surge also was accompanied by a sudden increase in online donations through the candidate’s website, a staffer confirmed to WND. All of that followed an endorsement by WND columnist Chuck Norris.

“Though Giuliani might be savvy enough to lead people, Fred Thompson wise enough to wade through the tides of politics, McCain tough enough to fight terrorism, and Romney business-minded enough to grow our economy, I believe the only one who has all of the characteristics to lead America forward into the future is ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee,” the “Walker, Texas Ranger” star wrote.

Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Huckabee, confirmed there was a significant surge in online donations after the Norris endorsement.

“I can’t give you specific numbers,” she told WND. “But the fundraiser hits have increased dramatically since Mr. Norris endorsed Gov. Huckabee.” Those “fundraiser hits” are inquiries from individuals seeking to hold a fundraiser for the candidate, she said.

Huckabee previously had been among the “second tier” of GOP candidates behind leaders Giuliani, Thompson, McCain and Romney.

Last month, WND reported Huckabee took the top position in a straw poll conducted at the groundbreaking Values Voter Presidential Debate, where candidates were asked their positions on abortion, terrorism, free speech, free exercise of religion and other issues.

The three-hour debate was posted on the Internet by the American Family Association.

In addition to Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, former ambassador Alan Keyes, businessman John Cox and Reps. Ron Paul of Texas, Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Duncan Hunter of California were in attendance.

Missing were Giuliani, Thompson, Romney and McCain.

Janet Folger, president of the Faith2Action organization which worked on the debate, said Huckabee received 63 percent, more votes than all the other candidates combined. No-show candidates – the top four, according to national surveys – were included in the poll.

In an interview with WND, Huckabee said the fight with terror won’t end in a draw, and the U.S. must continue its work.

“There’s no peaceful co-existence, there’s no accommodation, there’s no na?ve nonsense that if we leave them alone they leave us alone. This is a war someone will win and someone will lose,” he told WND during the one-on-one discussion.

“Whoever perseveres and whoever has the strongest will, will in fact win and that’s why we can’t give up,” he said.

Regarding another attack on America, he said, “There’s almost an inevitability, not just a possibility. It will happen again. And it’ll happen because we face an enemy that is not a nation-state that can be contained within borders and boundaries, because their war is not about borders and boundaries.

“Islamofascism is rooted in a theocratic Islamic jihadism that seeks to destroy and annihilate every last one of us. It wants to establish a complete Islamic theocracy across the world and for that to happen it means our culture has to be completely snuffed out,” he said.

Related story:

Previous stories:

Huckabee warns fight with terror won’t end in draw

Values Voter debate now online

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.