With the recent focus on the possibility that Fred Thompson will seek the Presidency, I commented that I think his entry would crowd out Romney and set up a fight between him and Giuliani. Supporting this conclusion is a poll by Kieran Mahoney that recently received a lot of attention:
New York-based political consultant Kieran Mahoney's survey of probable Republican participants in the 2008 Iowa presidential caucuses showed this support for the "big three" candidates: John McCain, 20.5 percent; Rudy Giuliani, 16.3 percent; Mitt Romney, 3.5 percent. Astonishingly, they all trailed James Gilmore, the former governor of Virginia, who had 31 percent.
How could that be? Because it was not a legitimate survey but a "push poll," normally a clandestine effort to rig the results by telling respondents negative things about some of the candidates. But Mahoney makes no secret that the voters he sampled were told of liberal deviations by McCain, Giuliani and Romney, as well as true-blue conservatism by Gilmore, who is Mahoney's client.
Mahoney is trying to prove a point widely accepted in Republican ranks. None of the three front-line candidates is a natural fit for the nation's right-of-center party. Without question, there is a void. The question is whether Gilmore or anyone else can fill it.
I suspect that Fred Thompson would very quickly fill that void - the missing 'real conservative.' I don't know that he would instantly leap to 31 percent, but he would certainly pass the other leading contenders.
I'm surprised at the strength shown by McCain in Mahoney's poll. I question whether that would hold with Thompson in the race.