It's Yepsen time again: "Thompson helps McCain," says the Iowa guru
How do we reconcile these polls?
By Mark Kilmer Posted in 2008 — 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.