Wonks Ponder Thompson Fallout

Romney, Huckabee likely to benefit, unless he endorses McCain
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2008 9:02 PM CST
Then-Republican presidential hopeful, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson fields questions from the media during a campaign stop to talk to supporters in Prosperity, S.C. in this Jan. 17, 2008 file photo....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Pollsters are placing bets on who disbanded Thompsonites will turn to in Florida. With most calling themselves "very conservative" evangelicals, they will likely support Huckabee or Romney, one pollster says. But Thompson could throw a curve and endorse John McCain, his old Senate buddy, the Washington Post reports.

Even without endorsement, Thompson's exit will give McCain a 2% boost  for an overall GOP lead at 30%, according to one poll; Giuliani will reap a 3% reward to put him at 18%. While pollsters quibble over the fallout, analysts are painting Thompson as a rare, issue-oriented hopeful who missed a great opportunity. "He was a lackluster candidate who would have been a great president," one said.