Thompson Surging In Iowa

Rick Moran
Fred Thompson may be a late comer to the presidential race but he is apparently making up for lost time in Iowa.

The latest Des Moines Register poll shows the former Tennessee Senator surging past Rudy Giuliani into second place:

Romney, who has campaigned more often in Iowa than his Republican rivals, is the presidential choice of 29 percent of those who say they definitely or probably will attend the leadoff caucuses. Support for the former Massachusetts governor is essentially unchanged from an Iowa Poll taken in May, when he was the top choice of 30 percent.

There’s been a shakeup, however, in the rest of the field.

Thompson, a former Tennessee senator who officially entered the race for the Republican nomination a month ago, grabs second place in the new poll at 18 percent. The poll was conducted while he was finishing his second campaign trip to Iowa last week.
Mike Huckabee and Giuliani are running neck and neck for third place while John McCain has fallen far behind, back into single digits in the poll.

However...

Iowa is a caucus state. And history has shown that it is difficult to turn popular support in Iowa into strength in the caucuses. This is where sheer organization comes into play as candidates must identify who their supporters are at precinct level and then move those supporters physically to the caucus site. In this respect, no one really knows who is ahead in Iowa although Romney is generally acknowledged as having the best organization while Thompson's presence in the state is considerably less.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire is a different story for Thompson:

For months, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has owned this state. A next-door neighbor with a vacation home here, Romney has had a double-digit lead over his fellow Republicans in the nation's first primary state, a hallmark of his highly disciplined campaign for the presidency.

Now, that lead has all but evaporated. The latest polls show him running neck-and-neck with former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has beefed up his campaign staff and flooded the state with direct mail to make up for his infrequent visits.

And a revived Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the darling of New Hampshire in 2000, in nipping at both of their heels. Romney's drop, which has come despite him spending millions of dollars on television commercials here and years building a ground operation, has turned the Granite State into a tossup three months before the voting takes place.

"It's more competitive than people realize on the Republican side," said Jennifer Donahue, a senior adviser for political affairs at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. "First place is up for grabs with an edge towards Romney. You have McCain and [former Arkansas governor Mike] Huckabee in pretty good shape to be the alternative."
Thompson is in single digits in the Granite State largely because voters in New Hampshire tend not to make up their minds about a candidate until they actually see him in the flesh. Thompson has made only two visits to the state while Mike Huckabee has spent 36 days there and Giuliani has visited 17 times.

John McCain won the New Hampshire primary in 2000 largely as a result of independents who voted in the Republican primary. This time out, McCain's strong support for the Iraq War may not bring quite as many independents to his side, polls showing most indies opposing the war. But he is still a formidable presence and both Romney and Giuliani must reckon with him.

What all this shows is that the race for the GOP nomination is indeed still up in the air and despite raising tens of millions of dollars, neither Romney nor Giuliani have been able to run away from the pack.
Fred Thompson may be a late comer to the presidential race but he is apparently making up for lost time in Iowa.

The latest Des Moines Register poll shows the former Tennessee Senator surging past Rudy Giuliani into second place:

Romney, who has campaigned more often in Iowa than his Republican rivals, is the presidential choice of 29 percent of those who say they definitely or probably will attend the leadoff caucuses. Support for the former Massachusetts governor is essentially unchanged from an Iowa Poll taken in May, when he was the top choice of 30 percent.

There’s been a shakeup, however, in the rest of the field.

Thompson, a former Tennessee senator who officially entered the race for the Republican nomination a month ago, grabs second place in the new poll at 18 percent. The poll was conducted while he was finishing his second campaign trip to Iowa last week.
Mike Huckabee and Giuliani are running neck and neck for third place while John McCain has fallen far behind, back into single digits in the poll.

However...

Iowa is a caucus state. And history has shown that it is difficult to turn popular support in Iowa into strength in the caucuses. This is where sheer organization comes into play as candidates must identify who their supporters are at precinct level and then move those supporters physically to the caucus site. In this respect, no one really knows who is ahead in Iowa although Romney is generally acknowledged as having the best organization while Thompson's presence in the state is considerably less.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire is a different story for Thompson:

For months, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has owned this state. A next-door neighbor with a vacation home here, Romney has had a double-digit lead over his fellow Republicans in the nation's first primary state, a hallmark of his highly disciplined campaign for the presidency.

Now, that lead has all but evaporated. The latest polls show him running neck-and-neck with former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has beefed up his campaign staff and flooded the state with direct mail to make up for his infrequent visits.

And a revived Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the darling of New Hampshire in 2000, in nipping at both of their heels. Romney's drop, which has come despite him spending millions of dollars on television commercials here and years building a ground operation, has turned the Granite State into a tossup three months before the voting takes place.

"It's more competitive than people realize on the Republican side," said Jennifer Donahue, a senior adviser for political affairs at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. "First place is up for grabs with an edge towards Romney. You have McCain and [former Arkansas governor Mike] Huckabee in pretty good shape to be the alternative."
Thompson is in single digits in the Granite State largely because voters in New Hampshire tend not to make up their minds about a candidate until they actually see him in the flesh. Thompson has made only two visits to the state while Mike Huckabee has spent 36 days there and Giuliani has visited 17 times.

John McCain won the New Hampshire primary in 2000 largely as a result of independents who voted in the Republican primary. This time out, McCain's strong support for the Iraq War may not bring quite as many independents to his side, polls showing most indies opposing the war. But he is still a formidable presence and both Romney and Giuliani must reckon with him.

What all this shows is that the race for the GOP nomination is indeed still up in the air and despite raising tens of millions of dollars, neither Romney nor Giuliani have been able to run away from the pack.