Could Fred Thompson be the Last Conservative Standing?

Thompson did extremely well in the Fox News debate last night (of course, I thought that he has done very well in terms of his positions in all the debates). Frank Luntz's focus group of undecided voters overwhelmingly gave the nod to Senator Thompson. Here is a YouTube clip from the debate that gives one a good idea of how Thompson did.

Given Romney's stands on everything from global warming to the assault weapons ban as well as his changed positions on many other issues, I am not sure how conservative he is, but I think that Romney has backed himself into a corner. By concentrating all his effort on Michigan, he has raised the stakes dramatically. The problem that he faces is that Michigan allows non-Republicans to vote in their primary and that is compounded by the fact that there is no Democratic race (Hillary Clinton is the only one on the Democratic ballot). Independents and Democrats who have no reason to vote in the Democratic primary will feel tempted to wreak all sorts of havoc on the Republicans by voting for McCain or even Huckabee (of course, some of these other voters probably actually like McCain). My bottom line is that I think that this will be a tough race for Romney to win, and I think that he may drop out of the race if he loses in Michigan. Given that I don't think that even their current positions would classify McCain and Huckabee as conservatives on economic issues, that would leave Thompson and Giuliani. Giuliani's strategy seems to depend a lot on what happens in Florida (his staff is being asked to work without pay because of money problems). Of course, all this might depend upon Thompson doing well in South Carolina. That is surely possible given how people in South Carolina appreciated his debate performance on Thursday.

UPDATE: The Democratic DailyKos is advising Democrats in Michigan to vote for Romney. They apparently believe that McCain would be the strongest Republican nominee.

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Anonymous Franz said...


I've recently read Freedonomics recently and have been following your blog for the last week or so. Based on your support of the free market, I'm surprised you don't discuss Ron Paul - whether you support him or not, surely you recognize him as the strongest proponent of free markets in the race? Just curious what your thoughts are.


1/11/2008 9:16 AM  
Blogger Dad29 said...

I rather LIKE your analysis.

But Mitt drop out? Hmmmmmm....

1/11/2008 10:45 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Franz:

This has been discussed before (though it has probably been a little while). Paul certainly has many strong qualities, but I have objections to adopting the gold standard, which I think would produce massive swings in the price level. A doubling of the price of gold would mean a halving of the price level if we were on a gold standard. I think that Thompson also has a better chance of winning the general election.

1/11/2008 1:31 PM  
Anonymous Franz said...

John, thanks for sharing your thoughts on RP, both good points. I agree the gold standard is an imperfect solution, I'd rather see a free market approach w/ competing currencies such as this.

Hard to predict who has a good chance in the general election... the case for Ron Paul is that he may be able to outflank the democratic candidate on foreign policy (Ron Paul voted against the war, Hillary voted for the war, Obama still doesn't know what he would have done) not to mention some social issues (civil liberties, war on drugs).

1/11/2008 3:30 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Franz:

Thank you. I agree that competing currencies is a very attractive option. Larry White, a friend of mine from graduate school, was very important in popularizing this approach.

Paul's claims in the recent debate about the economy were overly hysterical -- not that such an approach differentiates him from many politicians.

1/12/2008 1:19 AM  

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