Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post follows Fred Thompson’s trajectory in the polls, and finds Thompson moving in the wrong direction:
The most recent data comes from New Hampshire where two surveys were released over the weekend. The first, conducted by the University of New Hampshire for the Boston Globe, put Thompson in sixth (yes, SIXTH) place with just three percent of the vote. (Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney led the way with 32 percent.) In a Marist University poll Thompson again took sixth place with just five percent support. To be clear, Thompson was never a frontrunner in New Hampshire but polls conducted in the run-up to his announcement and just after he formally entered the race show him regularly polling in double digits.
Thompson’s shrinking support is apparent in other early states as well. The last three polls taken in Iowa put Thompson in fourth, fifth and fourth place, respectively, and his high water mark in any of those surveys is 11 percent. In Florida, too, Thompson appears to be fading. A new poll conducted for the Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times showed Thompson in fifth place (eight percent) behind Giuliani (36 percent), Romney (19 percent), Arizona Sen. John McCain (12 percent) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (nine percent).
As Cillizza notes, Thompson is faring better in South Carolina and, no doubt, some other states. Still, it seems likely that Thompson may go down in history as the first Presidential candidate whose support peaked before he got into the race.
I think there are several reasons why Thompson’s campaign has not, so far, taken off as some expected. Thompson is a perfectly good conservative, but he lacks any particular stature as a one-and-a-half term Senator with no outstanding legislative accomplishments or policy innovations to his name. Given that he is also a quiet (some say lackluster) campaigner, it shouldn’t be surprising that so far, he hasn’t emerged as a powerhouse.
Also, Thompson’s appeal is based largely on the “none of the above” factor. He set out to appeal to the considerable segment of the Republican electorate that expressed dissatisfaction with the existing field. That was a good and potentially fertile niche, but it means that in a sense Thompson has been running against the field. To the extent that Romney, Giuliani and Huckabee have won over some previously skeptical voters, the need for a “none of the above” candidate may have diminished. And John McCain’s resurgence must have taken support away from Thompson, the candidate whose policy profile most nearly resembles McCain’s.
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