McCain the Beneficiary of a Celebrity Effect?
Thompson Support Tied to Giuliani Drop in NH
By Hunter Baker Posted in 2008 — Comments (11) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Savvy pollsters are beginning to include Fred Thompson in their surveys with a surprising result peeking out in New Hampshire. Adding Thompson to the mix seems to have hurt Rudy Giuliani. (Numbers are from American Research Group.)
Numbers and thoughts below (plus, don't miss me delivering good news for the Mitt team at the end)
In February, before there was any talk of Thompson, Giuliani and McCain were in a virtual heat with 27% and 26% respectively. Move to March and Giuliani drops to 19% and McCain drops much less dramatically to 23%. Their combined drop is almost a perfect match for Fred Thompson's 10% support. Romney, the person most people think of as losing out to Thompson, actually ticked up a couple of percentage points from 15% to 17%.
Now, in this scenario it seems clear to me that Thompson is gaining support in New Hampshire primarily at the expense of Rudy Giuliani. We political types look at the situation and assume Thompson would take votes from Romney because Romney wants to run as the real conservative and Thompson could probably best him in that claim. If Thompson does gain from Giuliani, then a different dynamic could be at work, one that resonates more with mass culture than with politics.
Why does Thompson (in this single poll in this single state) gain from Giuliani? One possibility is that both men are famous beyond the simple confines of the political world. Post-Sept. 11, Giuliani escaped mere politician status to become an icon. Thompson, of course, is extremely recognizable due to his film/television career in addition to his eight years in the Senate. It may simply be a case of star power detracting from star power.
Another interpretation suggests itself, too, though. We've speculated whether Rudy's numbers would begin to fall if Republicans in key states begin to become very familiar with his policies, particularly his pro-choice bent. I would not be surprised to hear that Giuliani's competition has been taking the time to meet each New Hampshire GOP voter PERSONALLY and tell them all about it. That, alone, could account for Rudy's drop in the NH poll. If that's the case, Thompson may have gained newly disillusioned Rudy supporters simply because he's the new conservative flavor.
You've probably heard it already, but Mitt is predicted to finish the first quarter with a $40 million haul, which is spectacular. The question is, of course, how long he can keep it up without stronger performance in the polls. It would also be interesting to find out how much he has spent relative to the other teams.