Fred Thompson

Good News for Anyone But McCain

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Ryan Sager parses the new Quinnipiac poll on the GOP race and finds bad news for Giuliani, good news for McCain.

Compared to Quinnipiac's last national poll in February, Mr. Giuliani fell to 27% from 40% — a huge tumble. Mr. Romney barely budged, going to 8% from 7%. Mr. McCain also barely budged, going to 19% from 18%. And Mr. Thompson burst onto the scene, coming in at 14%, having not been included in the last poll (and, as usual, stealing third place from Mr. Romney, despite not having lifted a finger).

So, the bad news for Mr. Giuliani is obvious: a big tumble, and the appearance that it has been caused almost entirely by Mr. Thompson stealing a big chunk of his support out from under him. The bad news for Mr. Romney is equally obvious: that he's being overshadowed by a guy who's not even in the race. As for the good news for Mr. Thompson: He's doing great for a guy not doing anything.

What's less obvious is why this is mixed news for Mr. McCain. Given that his support in this poll has hardly budged since February — when he's just gotten finished with a major "re-launch" of his campaign — one might be tempted to call it unadulterated bad news. Sure, his main rival, Mr. Giuliani, has taken a hit, but he also now has to contend with Mr. Thompson nipping at his heels.

Digging into the internals, Sager sees the makings of a possible McCain comeback. I'm not convinced. I see more evidence of an iron-clad anti-McCain vote that goes as high as 80 percent. McCain has been trying to lower that threshold with his bullishness about the Iraq War, which most Republican voters still support. But if Fred Thompson gets in, he'll be saving the exact same things about Iraq, sounding better doing it, and halting McCain's advance on the issue. And if Thompson doesn't get in, most of that anti-McCain vote swings back to Giuliani.

But Sager sees some potential in Giuliani's dip in evangelical support and McCain's rise.

They are evidence that Mr. Giuliani's liberal social views are catching up with him, while Mr. McCain is having some success reminding social conservatives that, though he's had some spats with the religious right, his views aren't that far out of the Republican mainstream.

McCain's done more than "had spats"—he's done more to screw over the right-to-life movement than anyone in the GOP field, or most of the Democrats. Whether McCain can rise much higher with evangelicals depends on how many of those groups turn their guns on him before the primaries.

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  1. Tonight is the candidate’s debate right?

    I hope Ron Paul kicks ass. Makes himself a force to be reckoned with.

  2. I hope to see a Libertarian contender for high office in my life time. I really do.

    If only we were less principled and would sellout our ideals for votes we would rule the world, wouldn’t we?

  3. It will be interesting to see if Ron Paul gets a bump in the polls after tonight, but then again with over 70% of Republicans supporting the war in Iraq, he probably won’t get that much of a bump. Paul doesn’t really fit in either major party. Lots of Democrats would like his antiwar stance and drug legalization stance, but they wouldn’t like his support of a free market.

  4. Little known fact: Giuliani means spaghetti bender in french.

  5. I hope Ron Paul falls on his face…he represents the worst segment of the libertarian world..those who chose to circle around lew rockwell

  6. I hope Ron Paul falls on his face…he represents the worst segment of the libertarian world..those who chose to circle around lew rockwell

    Actually, although I am not a cheese-eating-surrender-monkey supporter, I do hope he does well on non-war issues. That is the only time he does not sound like Dennis Kucinich/David Weigel on that topic. He needs to get nuttier to sound like Nick or Radley on the war stuff. Actually, David Corn along with those folks over at Kos need to get nuttier to sound like them.

    Anyway, I suspect scheduling this on the National day of Prayer (I hope I can mention prayer here without getting a Dave W. ban) was so that the majority of Rs could keep Fred out of the debate.

    Carry on! Good show!

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