It's Yepsen time again: "Thompson helps McCain," says the Iowa guru

How do we reconcile these polls?

By Mark Kilmer Posted in Comments (18) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Every four years, the national political media yank David Yepsen off the Iowa shelf and ask him questions as if he were an expert; after the caucuses, back he goes. Well, it can be argued that Yepsen is indeed an expert on Iowa politics. He's been the political columnist for the Des Moines Register since 2000, having been their main political writer since before that. And David Yepsen is a blogger of a mainstream media sort.

David Yepsen has decided that Fred Thompson's entry into the race for the Republican Presidential nomination will help Thompson's friend John McCain in Iowa, and he tells is this in a column published yesterday (pre-debate). He predicts that Thompson will take "more support away from Romney than he takes from McCain."

See if you follow this:

Here's how it works: The Register's Iowa Poll showed last month that without Thompson in the race, Romney leads McCain 30 percent to 18 percent in the state. But when Thompson is added to the mix in an American Research Group poll of Iowa GOPers taken about the same time, Romney's support drops by about half.

By contrast, McCain sees no similar erosion to Thompson and might even gain some support. That ARG poll showed that with Thompson in the race, McCain becomes the Iowa front-runner with 25 percent. Rudy Giuliani is in second place with 23 percent, and Romney is in third with 16 percent. Thompson is in the back of the pack at 6 percent.

It sounds interesting, but can we dance to it? Let's read on. ...

I posit that the poll results are woefully premature. Mitt Romney has been spending plenty of time and obscene (at this point in the race) sums of money in Iowa to attract voters. John McCain has done his share, as well, as have others. Fred Thompson has done nothing and has no organization.

Until Thompson has had his mug on the telly and his peeps on the ground for a while in Iowa, we can only guess how he'll fare. For now, it's almost a guess based on preliminary data which does not seem to synch on set with the other.

With the data supplied by Yepsen, we can see that Thompson hurts both McCain and Romney; and even with no Fred Thompson, it is predictable, I think, that Romney cannot maintain a real lead of that size over an aggressive field. But conflating the two separate poll results, Thompson's entry scrambles the results of the Register poll to the point that the ARG poll can hardly be reconciled with the former.

We're not given a lot, and we have to see the type of unconventional campaign Thompson can deliver and the effect it will have on the standings of those still kissing babies.

I have to give Yepsen gets high marks for his ending, though. After making his argument, Yepsen concludes:

Maybe that's why McCain is so willing to welcome his old friend Fred into the race. Thompson could be the best thing to happen to McCain in Iowa since that morning glass of ethanol.

Drink up, Senator. Iowa, I'm sure, is happy to serve as much as you want. For a price.

I think we'll see that Thompson's entry into the race hurts the Presidential prospects of each of the candidates. How much for whom, we'll see when he becomes a candidate. This may not this mattering who his candidacy helps or hurts against whom, as Thompson himself could be the main concern of each of the others.

We'll know by the end of the summer whether or not we have a juggernaut.

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It's Yepsen time again: "Thompson helps McCain," says the Iowa guru 18 Comments (0 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

Maybe Yepsen is right, and Thompson does help McCain---in Iowa. Fred Thompson lacks staying power in the campaign, however, and in the end will do little to hamper Romney's chances, I believe.

How does Thompson lack "staying power?" It's awfully difficult to say he won't have it when you have nothing on which to base that assertion. Saying it does not make it so - despite the deepest desires of the Romney folks on this board.

Fred Thompson hurts every candidate in the race because he's the only one who is coming in with a huge following, a lot of fanfare and press, and not having spent a dime or a day campaigning. Without doing that he's managed to put McCain and Romney back into 3rd and 4th place.

This whole idea that Thompson won't win or that he doesn't hurt X candidate or that he's not going to click may be true, but no one ever backs up their assertion because they cannot. We haven't seen his campaign, and we have many months left. From the data we have, we can say however that Fred Thompson has attracted far more support - enthusiastic support - than any of the other candidates.

Whether it'll have staying power is, of course, a question (same with every other candidate!), but one that can't be answered right now.

Unless you're a Mitt Romney supporter and are scared to death about Fred entering the race, in which case it's quite easy to downplay Fred Thompson, because you have to.

Donate to Fred Thompson's Campaign right here...you know you want to!

I think either one is better than the others, but I think most of the others would make good Presidents, too.

Fred and Mitt would make a great ticket for me, although Fred and Condi has its advantages.

We've traded our National Sovereignty for cheap roofing and yardwork.

Cursory analysis would lead one to believe that, other than the immigration and taxation issues, Fred's entry into the race would stand to hurt McCain the most... sure, it could put a damper on Rudy's levels of support, but Thompson getting into the race would have the potential to leech votes away from McCain more than any other candidate...

"To all those whom I have not yet offended: Please stand by, and I will work to remedy the situation as soon as possible."

Patiently waiting for a Fred Thompson / John Engler ticket.

I think you mis-typed something in the first sentence.

IMHO. McCain has no chance to win the Presidency, and we'd be crazy to nominate him, all because of this Immigration bill and McCain Feingold and his general demeanor. But primarily because of the immigration thing.

If nominated, he'd have the same position on immigration as the Dem candidate. There would be no incentive for people who feel strongly about this to pick him over Hillary, and I think this is absolutely the most important issue we face now, more important than any facet of terrorism.

Why is this important? Because the other leading 'Pub candidates have the ability to pull in all those non-Republican voters who are incensed about the whole thing. And I think this means a lot of votes.

Maybe that's too far out, but that's what I think right now.

We've traded our National Sovereignty for cheap roofing and yardwork.

you never anything about Iowa and New Hampshire except for campaigning, yet, it's such a big deal to win those states?

everything Thompson says helps Thompson. If it incidentally helps someone else, so what?

We've traded our National Sovereignty for cheap roofing and yardwork.

You missed the most obvious flaw in Yepsen's logic: How does Thompson's 6 points account for a 14-point difference for Romney (30 vs. 16)? I emailed Yepsen the other day with this question (no reply). I much prefer McCain over Romney, but I gotta call 'em as I see 'em.

Not only does 6 points not equal 14 points. But the whole logic is off.

These polls are showing an increase in support for McCain with the inclusion of Thompson. But what seems to be unmentioned by Yepsen is that this qould require that the entry of Thompson makes people who would otherwise vote for Romney decide instead to support McCain. That makes no sense. The whole point of the help/hurt equation is to see how many people shift from an old candidate to the new candidate and how that impacts placement. We should not see a new candidate causing people to shift between two candidates that have already been campaigning for months.

These results certainly have as much value as any other poll at this stage. But there is certainly more going on here than simply the entry of Fred Thompson to the race (which has, anyway, been almost a foregone conslusion itself for some time now).

Of the big five, Thompson has accomplished the least in his life, and comes in with some of the biggest star power--just the opposite of Romney.

Gingrich: Spurned the Republican revolution and brought a Republican majority to the house
Guliani: Presided over a wonderful transformation in New York City
McCain: Authored many famous (but horrible) Senate Bills.
Romney: Founded and ran a multi-million dollar corporation that yielded over a 100% return each and every year; turned the olympics from a failure to success, balanced the budget in Mass.

From what I can tell about Thompson (please correct me if I am wrong) he said a famous phrase in the Watergate investigation, starred in a movie about himself, played a "tough guy" role in several films, and served an undistinguished period of time as a senator.

But, due to the fact that Thompson is on a very famous show he polls highly. It is a sad state when the American population passes up true achievement, such as in the case of Romney, Guliani, or Gingrich, in favor of an actor.

Going into this race, of the big five, Romney had the least name recognition, while the rest had much more. Romney's supporters are built from the ground-up, based on his record of achievement, not based on name recognition.

Most polls (look at the national polls shown on real clear politics) show Guliani most hurt by Thompson followed by McCain, that is because the people who support Thompson primarily do so out of name recognition (similar to support for Juliani.)

Romney will be hurt the least because his supporters learned about him during the campaign and chose to vote for him. Others, whose support is built on name recognition will be hurt more.

Fred helps Romney the most.

The idea that Fred is just someone with name recognition is WRONG. His name recognition is actually lower than McCain and Guliani and not much higher than Romney. When people see him or here him speak, it goes up, but is still not as high as either McCain or Romney.

The idea that effectiveness as a President is dependent upon a resume of accomplishment is also WRONG.

When Bush ran against Reagan in 80, who had the better resume of accomplishment? Who had the better resume, GWB or Gore?

The idea that a resume of accomplishment is what determines who gets votes is also WRONG.

Who was more accomplished in 92, Bush or Clinton? Sitting President who presided over Gulf War I, or a govenor from a small and poor state.

When someone is hired for a job, they are hired on the basis of the criteria for that job. Presidents are hired to exervise good judgment and to communication. Fred has both in spades, Gore does not, although Gore clearly has the better "resume."

Who will do the best job with the bully pulpit? I think Fred will, so I am voting for Fred.

at least the resume for President.

Reagan: lead fight against Communists in Screen Actor's Guild, president of same. Actor. TV Host. Sought after public speaker for 30 years prior to 1980. Gave legendary political address for Goldwater in 1964. Governor of largest state in the union, elected twice with big margins. Exciting run for president in 1976.

Bush: Successful oil man. Elected to congress. Unsuccessful bid for statewide office. Chairman of GOP under Nixon. Director of CIA. Ambassador (de facto) to China.

Now if the resume was for Secretary of State, Bush had an edge.

What do you know of what Thompson has accomplished?

Wikipedia has a nifty summary.

Thompson helps no one but himself, and he might just hurt Romney the most. Remember, Mitt's sole strength to this point has been some pretty incredible fundraising. We'll have to see how Thompson's entry effects that.

swirling around me as I was typing and didn't proof my blog.

appeared to have good idealogy. So, I supported him. Sadly, I've come to believe that he is incompetent.

I've seen Fred speak. For instance, I watched a really corny video where he pretended that he was sitting in a chair doing important business, turned the chair around, puffed a cigar, and pretended to be too busy to debate Michael Moore.

I found the video to be junior highish.

I personally am looking for competence and most of the right idealogy.

I believe that Giuliani and Romney are the most competent, so I support them the most.

I think for the most part Romney has a better idealogy than Giuliani, so I prefer Romney.

As far as judgment is concerned, I see nothing in Fred's life that shows judgment. He knocked up a girl in high school. Later in life divorced her and ran around with a bunch of Hollywood women. Finally, he fathered a child (thankful while married) while entering his retirement years. (Please correct me if I am wrong about this... I read this from other blogs that may be factually incorrect.)

I don't see the judgment. Perhaps you can sell me on this.

I only see "good" delivery on speeches. Not a pattern of achievement and also not a pattern of judgment.

Honestly, of the big five, Fred is in last place for me, although I would gladly switch sides if someone could convince me.

I am all ears. :)

appeared to have good idealogy. So, I supported him. Sadly, I've come to believe that he is incompetent.

I've seen Fred speak. For instance, I watched a really corny video where he pretended that he was sitting in a chair doing important business, turned the chair around, puffed a cigar, and pretended to be too busy to debate Michael Moore.

I found the video to be junior highish.

I personally am looking for competence and most of the right idealogy.

I believe that Giuliani and Romney are the most competent, so I support them the most.

I think for the most part Romney has a better idealogy than Giuliani, so I prefer Romney.

As far as judgment is concerned, I see nothing in Fred's life that shows judgment. He knocked up a girl in high school. Later in life divorced her and ran around with a bunch of Hollywood women. Finally, he fathered a child (thankful while married) while entering his retirement years. (Please correct me if I am wrong about this... I read this from other blogs that may be factually incorrect.)

I don't see the judgment. Perhaps you can sell me on this.

I only see "good" delivery on speeches. Not a pattern of achievement and also not a pattern of judgment.

Honestly, of the big five, Fred is in last place for me, although I would gladly switch sides if someone could convince me.

I am all ears. :)

of achievement, you aren't looking.

As for judgment, Fred was already on the right side of the immigration issue before the recent dust-up. He is also on the right side of all the other issues, at least according to me. He has admitted he was wrong on McCain-Feingold.

That all shows good judgment.

As for his personal life, it might be a good idea to make sure those kinds of statements are true and complete before repeating them. I actually had some twit on an Ohio newspaper discussion board claim that Laura Welch Bush had murdered her high school boyfriend and had it covered up. The only part that was true was that Laura had been involved in a fatal car accident while in high school.

We've traded our National Sovereignty for cheap roofing and yardwork.

"From the data we have, we can say however that Fred Thompson has attracted far more support - enthusiastic support - than any of the other candidates."

Uh, other than EVERY POLL in existence showing Rudy leading Thompson- exactly what EVIDENCE are you relying on to make this claim?!! I find it pretty ironic you castigate the Romney folks for making baseless allegations and then you jump in with your own..

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