Calling the 2012 Republican presidential primary the most volatile for the GOP in generations isn't political hyperbole - it's empirical fact.
Since the start 2011, seven different candidates or potential contenders could claim to be the Republican race's front-runner, according to polling from Gallup. The list includes Mike Huckabee,Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. In at least one Gallup poll, each claimed at least a share of the lead in the GOP race. (Huckabee and Trump are the only two who never officially declared themselves a candidate.)
I wrote in October, when Cain's campaign was at its peak and before Gingrich's and Santorum's rise, how the contest had already seen the most upheaval since 1964. That year, four different people - Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, Henry Cabot Lodge and Barry Goldwater -- were leading the race in at least one poll. A fifth man, William Scranton, surged to within a point of the lead two weeks before the party's convention.