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« The Death Of High Fidelity | Main | The Front Lines »

Asking The Wrong Question

Everyone (well, not everyone, but the conventional wisdom) is writing off Fred Thompson.

But this prognostication raises a question that (as far as I know) has never been asked. Everyone assumes that if Fred drops out, he throws his support to his old bud McCain. But what if Thompson does much better than expected, and after South Carolina, McCain drops out? Where does his support go? Will he explicitly endorse Thompson? And even if not, will his voters go there anyway?

It's hard to see them going to Huckabee, Romney or Giuliani. What do they have to offer the conservatives and hawks who were with McCain (assuming that's why they were with him). Neither Huck or Mitt has been very strong on the war (that's a vast understatement with respect to Huckabee, who seems to be a Republican version of Jimmy Carter). And Rudy seems too socially liberal to attract McCain voters (many of whom are presumably attracted by his pro-life position).

If Fred comes in third (and two positions above McCain) in Iowa, as predicted above, he will probably have enough momentum to ignore New Hampshire and raise money for South Carolina. Particularly since he will have shown that he didn't "enter too late" (the other candidates entered too early, as he continually points out) and that he can do well when he focuses on a needed state.

The key point is that with all of these polls, no one has a majority. The real question is: where will people go when their favorite flames out? People should be asking that about every candidate, not just Fred. This is still anyone's (well, OK, not Ron Paul's, or the other minor candidates') race, in that if one can pick off the votes of the others, they can rapidly raise their percentage to a majority. This seems like good news for Fred to me, if he can do well tonight. This is a result of the fact that there's no Republican incumbent.

And if no one can, then things will be very interesting at the convention. It seems to me that if it ends up brokered, that ends up being good for the most genuine heir to Ronald Reagan as well.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 03, 2008 01:44 PM
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