The Fred factor

Two weeks ago I assessed the likely impact of a Fred Thompson candidacy in these terms:

Thompson’s entry would probably be a set-back for McCain. Early polls show Thompson taking more support from Giuliani than from McCain, but that probably reflects Giuliani’s position as a front-runner with more “soft” support than McCain. Over time, I think Thompson’s presence might well erode McCain’s position (and he has less support to spare than Rudy does) because Thompson has more similarities to his ex-colleague in the Senate than to the former New York mayor.
Thus, though it’s far too early to predict this, it requires little strain to imagine a race that comes down to Thompson vs. Giuliani — in other words a fairly traditional conservative with some centrist tendencies against a centrist with some strong conservative tendencies.

It’s still premature to say that Thompson’s entry would squeeze out McCain, but a Los Angeles Times poll indicates that even without entering Thompson has made McCain the third choice among Republicans. According to the poll, Giuliani still leads the field among probable Republican primary voters surveyed with 29% support, but he is followed by Thompson with 15%. They are followed McCain with 12%. and Romney 8%.
Perhaps McCain has bottomed out. Lately, he has been the subject of stories claiming he flirted with the Democrats in 2001 and 2004. He also took a hit for his tour of the Baghdad market which was made to appear less safe than he had claimed. But now, some conservative opinion shapers and bloggers, seem to be warming to McCain a bit. However, he still has much to fear from a Thompson candidacy.
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