It’s their first poll since Fred! started making noise about getting in. Most interesting is who he seems to be drawing votes from:
Chosen by 12% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, Thompson is third in the Republican field. He trails former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, at 31%, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, at 22%. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is at 8%.
Thompson’s support seems to come largely from voters who had supported Giuliani. In the USA TODAY poll taken March 2-4, Giuliani’s standing had been 13 percentage points higher, at 44%. McCain’s support had been 2 points lower then.
Backing for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, widely considered a leading contender, has dropped. He was chosen by 3%, the same as Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback. Romney’s support in early March had been 8%.
The fact that he’s bleeding votes from Rudy confirms what we’ve suspected, that Rudy’s appeal has less to do with his policies than his projection of alpha-male authority-figure personal strength. Fred!’s putting out the same vibe, which neutralizes Giuliani and makes it a contest on the issues. And that’s not a contest Rudy wants. But if Fred!’s taking from Rudy, who’s taking from Mitt? Or is it less a question of people taking from Mitt than Mitt’s supporters abandoning ship? Ryan Sager hints that maybe it’s the latter. Romney’s swimming in dough, but he still has yet to make a distinct impression despite the fact that he’s been running for months. That makes conservatives nervous, I think, given the high profiles on the left and among the other candidates on the right. We tried a low-key decent guy against a rock star in 1996 and it didn’t work out. The stakes are too high to try it again in 2008.
Exit question: Fred!/Joementum fusion?
Update: She’s going to be tough to beat, dude. Good lord.
Update: Interest in a Fred! candidacy among House Republicans is such that they had to schedule two separate meet and greets for April 18th, according to Politico. Rep. Zach Wamp, who’s leading the Draft Fred movement, says he expects a decision sometime in May.