There are reasons to believe that Fred Thompson's campaign is surging in Iowa. First, Zogby's daily tracking poll finds Thompson in a tie for 3rd with McCain.
Second, a Des Moines Register poll concluded 12/30 saw Thompson's numbers rise by 2 percentage points.
Third, strategic Vision, concluded 12/30, shows an up-tic for Thompson.
Fourth, pundits are taking notice of both the late surge and Thompson's penchant for substance over glitz:
Thompson could still be the unity candidate. Given his track record on federalism, Thompson offered the complete conservative package -- smaller government, lower taxes and spending, pro-life, hard as nails on terrorism and only slightly less so on immigration, and the ability to charge life into the Reagan alliance that supports these ideals. He has been remarkably consistent, and the only real detriment would be his lack of executive experience and his inability to put together a real campaign.
The Captain also links us to David Limbaugh who's given Thompson high marks:
I must confess that Fred is the only one I don't have major reservations about --apart from his electability. Yes, I worry that he supported McCain-Feingold and that he might not be a strong supply-sider. But on most issues, he seems reliably conservative and appears to have a solid and strong character. I do believe that with Fred, we know what we are getting.
Jonah Goldberg on The Corner:
This is reminiscent of Reagan’s talk to the people of North Carolina in 1976. Simple, straightforward, modest production values—just the candidate in front of an American flag and an Iowa flag—but (to use the word again) compelling. Reagan’s 1976 talk enabled him to recover after a string of primary defeats, winning in North Carolina, then going on to come within a handful of delegates of wresting the nomination from Ford . . . Even at this late hour, I wouldn’t count Fred out.
Let me remind the voters that "this late hour" is 24 hours before the first vote for the first delegate to the convention is cast. If the hour be late, I be ancient.
While some fret that a 3rd place in Iowa won't help, I disagree. Captain Ed explains that 3rd place in Iowa is good for McCain because he's already doing well in New Hampshire. True. But a 4th place finish in Iowa, behind Thompson, makes Thompson the easy lead story for the MSM and the blogosphere on Friday. As Michelle Malkin reminds (channeling former NBC reporter John Hockenberry), "news executives are a cowardly herd of unoriginal thinkers" seeking the safe, formulaic stories. Well, there's nothing more formulaic than the easy headline of a dark horse candidate showing in a race he wasn't expected to finish?
Thompson's numbers surge when he gets free pub. Unlike the Huckster, exposure to Thompson makes people like him. A surprisingly good show in Iowa will boost his chances in South Carolina and Michigan. People will notice is substance, his "gravitas," as Captain Ed rightly identifies Thompson's political presence. Moreover, if McCain finishes behind Thompson, this year's version of the Straight Talk Express will skip the tracks. McCain must have the pub from a 3rd place finish to continue.
Finally, Huckabee could get slammed Thursday night. Today, Rush Limbaugh tore into the Huckster (stoptheaclu). Rush has clout with the very people who propelled Huckabee to the lead in Iowa. Disappointed Huckabee voters will look for the next best, sure thing. That's Thompson: solid Christian values, solid Conservative credentials, and substance over style.
Added together, tomorrow night could be a grand night for the red pick-up truck.