Novak Sees Hope For Fred

The latest Evans-Novak Political Report has some interesting tidbits about Fred (bold in original):

Thompson has far more upside potential than any other Republican, and he is spending the entire final stretch in the Hawkeye State. Thompson has perhaps the most broadly conservative record of any candidate besides the three congressmen (see below). Many conservative Iowans currently settling for Romney, Giuliani or Huckabee (or planning a protest vote of sorts for one of the congressmen) could certainly jump on board with Thompson. If he defies his reputation as a lazy worker, he could make a spectacular surge here.

Huckabee's high poll numbers and big leads do not guarantee a victory. He has nowhere near the campaign team, organization or money of runner-up Romney. As media scrutiny is finally arriving, he could be in trouble. Still, he is likable, and his openness about his Christianity plays very well among some blocs in the GOP.

Many Iowa Republicans like Huckabee because he comes across as genuine, especially in comparison to Romney. This is soft support that could bail to Thompson if he rises or to another candidate if Huckabee's negatives continue to surface.

Immigration is a big issue for Iowa Republicans, and Huckabee's support of state-subsidized education for illegal immigrants hurts him. His big-government record turns off some voters but is not a factor for some of his core supporters.

Huckabee's dig at Mormons in Sunday's New York Times magazine has turned off some Republican voters as dirty, bigoted or just politically dumb. This is the sort of thing that could bring him down.


This battle will hinge on Thompson's performance down the stretch. If he excels, he could draw down Huckabee's support significantly, and maybe Romney's, too. If Thompson is as uninspired as he has been to date, Huckabee will probably win.

The most likely result at this point appears to be a slight Thompson surge at Huckabee's expense, leaving Romney in first place and either Thompson or Huckabee in second. Leaning Romney.

In other words, don't count Fred out yet.