The MSM that is, over who is the true Republican frontrunner. Charles Franklin over at Pollster has the breakdown:
One notable result stands out. Former New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani continues to hold a small but reliable lead over Arizona Senator John McCain. Of 39 polls with both names in the list of candidates, Giuliani leads McCain in 30 with four more ties. McCain leads in only 5 polls.
That doesn't seem to me to be the message I've been getting from the media, so I did a little research. I searched Lexis/Nexis for "McCain" and "frontrunner" in the same paragraph, but "Giuliani" NOT in the paragraph. I then did the opposite. And finally for both mentioned in the same paragraph with "frontrunner". The results don't seem to reflect the polls. Using "American Newspapers" as a broad sample of papers, and 5/1/2006-12/19/2006 as the date range, I found:
McCain, frontrunner, NOT Giuliani: 270 articles
Giuliani, frontrunner, NOT McCain: 28 articles
Both with frontrunner: 76 articles
So I was relieved to find that my impression of media coverage as MUCH more favorable to McCain was not just a delusion. It also appears at strong odds with the polling data. Giuliani leads McCain by an average of 3 points in the 39 polls. Not a huge lead, but a very consistent one.
Much of the reporting seems to downplay Giuliani's chances of winning the Republican nomination, but given the negative opinion of McCain among many conservative Republicans, I wouldn't assume McCain can win easily either.