A new CBS News poll of 302 Republicans shows that Rudy Giuliani has widened his lead over Fred Thompson. Captain's Quarters breaks down the unreliability of CBS, the problems with the sample, etc, so I won't repeat that here. Instead, let's say the numbers are correct and Fred Thompson is fading fast. Two questions come up: Why? and What of it?
Why: Interest in Thompson as the non-candidate peaked in late June and the first week of July. Supporters and observers, alike, checked the blogs and the news regularly to see if he'd made any official announcements. When word came that his official announcement might come in September, the whole Thompson story lost its news-worthiness. The free pub he'd been getting was gone, and losing that exposure could hurt him.
What of it: If Thompson announces just after Labor Day (no one will notice if he announces during Labor Day weekend), he will pick up some attention. People naturally look around for a fall pastime after the last summer holiday. During election years, Labor Day is when the race starts to take shape. In the preceding year, it's when the political junkies start getting serious and the casual voters starts eliminating bad choices (though not necessarily selecting positive choices). If he waits much past Labor Day, he won't run.
For those of us with I'm With Fred logos all over the site, these nail-biting days. While other Republicans might be able to whoop Hillary or Osama or Edwards, Thompson seems the only candidate who would have serious coat-tails.
Ball's in your court, Fred.
**UPDATE** 8/16: Captain's Quarters is also following this story and has found that Rasmussen corroborates CBSNews findings . . . and then some . . .