Fred Thompson has been the talk of the conservative blogosphere for the last few days thanks to his winning of the most recent debate and the endorsement he received from Human Events. But many are wondering if it's too little too late. Perhaps, but here's a few things to consider.
We all know that New Hampshire is not a reliable measure of the pulse of the GOP nationwide because it's an open primary. So what do we have so far? Two caucuses and an open primary with three different winners. We have Michigan (another open primary) on Tuesday and it's quite possible that Rudy will win Florida on the 29th of January. That means if Fred wins South Carolina, next Saturday, we could conceivably have 6 contests with 5 different winners. The race would be wide open with Fred having won the only primary in a decidedly conservative state.
Why do I think Fred can win in South Carolina? Well, there's a few reasons like the above mentioned buzz that he's getting at just the right time. While Mitt and McCain are fighting for Michigan, Huck and Fred are going at it in South Carolina and so far Fred is getting his licks in and rightly exposing Huck's liberal streak.
But there's more. I was looking at RCP's South Carolina poll page and noticed that Fred was at 12% in S.C. Not so good. But the poll was conducted on Jan. 9th, the day BEFORE Fred's big debate win. Fred's gotten considerable media coverage in the aftermath, even the odious New York Times had to take notice. Not only that, along with those results Rasmussen reported that:
The race remains potentially very fluid as just 57% are certain that they will end up voting for the candidate they currently support.This is really important to keep in mind because one of the reasons the pollsters got the Democrat race in New Hampshire wrong was because late deciders broke for Hillary, and the polls which are often conducted over a rolling three-day period didn't capture this trend.
Additionally, the internals of Rasmussen's poll are very instructive:
Fred Thompson’s support is the most solid of all the candidates. Sixty-six percent (66%) of his supporters are “certain” they will vote for him. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Huckabee supporters are that “certain” along with 49% of McCain backers and 48% of those who currently favor Romney.So Fredheads are more loyal at this point than supporters of other candidates, which bodes well, but even better:
Thompson is viewed favorably by 72% of Likely Primary voters in the Palmetto State, McCain by 71% and Huckabee by 69%. Romney’s favorables are at 68%, Giuliani is at 60%, and Ron Paul at 36%.Admittedly the spread between Thompson with the highest favorability score and Romney, with the 4th highest, is a miniscule 4% but Fred is on top and combined with the loyalty of his supporters and the wavering of the supporters of the rest of the field we could have a big surprise in 6 days.
It should also be noted that Fred was polling as high 24% in South Carolina (in a Rasmussen poll) in late September of 2007 ahead of Rudy (20%) and Romney (15%).
As voters in the Palmetto State become more engaged over the next week Fred has an opportunity convince the ones who are undecided or who have a soft preference for another candidate. Fred needs to continue working on Huckabee who is misleading voters with his populist rhetoric and his faux conservatism but he's also going to have to respectfully take on McCain's voting record. I say respectfully because South Carolina is a state with a lot of veterans and veterans like McCain.
But Fred has a fighting chance in South Carolina and that means Republicans have a fighting chance at having a conservative as the nominee. If that's important to you, please get involved with Fred's campaign and donate if you can.