In this case, there's a demonstration of how serious a threat he is to the leaders in the Republican side, rather than a demonstration that he's serious about campaigning.
How much potential does he have as a candidate? Ryan Sager notes that he's beating Mitt Romney in Iowa:
Well, the first round of Fred Thompson numbers continues to come in from state-level polls around the country. The latest numbers out from American Research Group show Mr. Thompson at 12% among likely Iowa caucus goers, beating Mitt Romney's 10%.
In New Hampshire (also an ARG poll), Mr. Thompson clocks in at 10%; Mr. Romney beats him there with 17%.
All in all, not looking bad for my prediction earlier this week that Mr. Thompson could catch up to Mr. Romney in the blink of an eye. However, let's take a look at the question of from where (or, from whom) Mr. Thompson's support is coming...
While I continue to believe Mr. Romney's candidacy is the one most threatened by the potential entry of Mr. Thompson into the GOP primary, it's worth noting that these early numbers Mr. Thompson is posting don't seem to be coming at the expense of Mr. Romney.
In Iowa, the biggest hit is to the numbers of the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. He falls from 16% support in February to 7% in March. Mr. Romney gains 2 percentage points in that period; Mr. Giuliani loses 2 percentage points; and Senator McCain of Arizona gains 6 percentage points (Mr. McCain has been campaigning aggressively in the state in the last week).
In New Hampshire, the biggest hit is to Mr. Giuliani, who falls from 27% to 19%. (It's worth noting, however, that Mr. Giuliani's numbers since December 2006 have fluctuated as such in the ARG poll: 25% [Dec.], 20% [Jan.], 27% [Feb.], 19% [Mar.].; so, that's something of a red flag.) Mr. McCain loses 3 percentage points; Mr. Romney gains 2 percentage points; Mr. Gingrich gains 1 percentage point.
Sager notes that he predicted earlier this week that Thompson threatened Romney more than any other candidate. I agree.
Hat Tip: Rob