We will see next Tuesday if there’s a “Fred effect” in the rest of the GOP primaries, but I tend to think that his supporters will split on who they ought to support.
I suspect the only thing that might have kept the Fredheads uniform would have been an endorsement — and a passionate one at that – and we won’t be getting one, according to Thompson’s close associates.
I would note that we’ve already had, in effect, Fred-less primaries in New Hampshire, Michigan, and arguably Nevada. In those states, the kinds of voters who would back Thompson could vote for him, despite his extraordinarily low standing in the polls, or they could go with a candidate who they preferred less but who could . McCain won one, Romney won two.
But I would note that in the state that Thompson put either his most or second most effort in, Iowa, he only finished with 13 percent; Huckabee won that one and Thompson ran strongest in the parts of South Carolina that Huckabee was expected to excel in. Certainly in the demographics that preferred Thompson the most, the widely preferred choices were Huckabee and Romney.
Finally, I’ve had a few readers say they were shifting from Thompson to Giuliani, and their personas don’t seem too different – tough, no-B.S., prosecutorial background.
The Post poll took out Thompson and asked his supporters for their second choice. McCain gained two percent, and Giuliani gained three.
By the way, it seems near certain that we’re going to see people saying, “I’m supported Fred, and I’m supporting candidate X, so obviously most Fred supporters will back X” and “if you’re a Fred backer, then Y is the most important issue to you, and thus you have no choice but to support candidate Z.” Much noise, little illumination.
UPDATE: For what it’s worth, Ruffini’s poll has the vast majority of them going to Romney.