Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Mary Kaye Huntsman and Jon M. Huntsman Jr. take a moment before the dedication of the Huntsman Cancer Institute's new state-of-the-art $100 million expansion in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011.

In a recent forum held at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, Mary Kaye Huntsman said there is still hope for her husband's campaign since at this point in the 2008 election, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson were frontrunners. Huntsman, who worked on John McCain's 2008 campaign, said there is still time for things to turn around.

"We'll see a lot of changes in the next few weeks," she said during the forum. "I don't think it will be over soon."

Rather than being in the denial stage of mourning her lost chances at becoming the First Lady, Huntsman may be right, at least as far as the unpredictable nature of the race is concerned. Given recent Pew research, there is a chance for an extreme shift in sentiments if this campaign mirrors trends seen in 2007 and '08.

National polls in '07 showed Giuliani leading national polls at 26 percent, followed by McCain at 17 percent and Mitt Romney and Thompson at 13 percent. At this point in 2007, Romney was ahead in many of the early primary states. The poll numbers at that time were proven irrelevant since John McCain was ultimately selected as the Republican candidate. This year's national polls show Gingrich leading at 35 percent, followed by Romney at 21 percent, Ron Paul at 8 percent and Rick Perry tied with Michelle Bachmann at 5 percent.

A look at the history of these candidates' rankings offers an insight into the uncertainty of the party's nominee. created an animated horse race of the candidates to show the candidates' rankings beginning March 2010 and measuring throughout the race. Using data aggregated by Real Clear Politics, the race reflects the preferences of likely Republican voters based an average of the past five polls. Romney has been near the front of the pack since the beginning with Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich all challenging his lead. Given past patterns of fluctuation seen thus far, the elusive Republican nominee may be a tossup until the party's national convention at the end of August.

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