Many people are looking for clues as to what impact Fred Thompson’s departure will have on the race. Mitt Romney fans, not surprisingly, are collecting scraps of evidence that these voters will turn to their guy. The reality appears, however, to be that his absence will be a wash. This indicates that local Florida politicians are dividing up among the remaining candidates. The Louisiana caucus yesterday, which some believed Romney would win (after organizing with only Ron Paul in opposition), yielded unintelligible results. Bottom line: Thompson was on average in single digits in Florida and barely at 10% nationally, so there frankly aren’t that many votes to divide. I think the mostly likely answer is that his absence won’t matter.
Meanwhile, McCain and Romney go at it just like they did in New Hampshire, with Romney claiming McCain’s positions on issues are insufficiently conservative and McCain claiming Romney has no fixed positions. (A McCain spokesman’s on the record quote declares that Romney deserves the “Olympic gold medal for flip-flopping” and proceeds to list the now-familiar litany of Romney’s position changes.) I suspect there are few voters who are yet to be swayed by this back-and-forth, but in a race the polls still show as close no allegation will be left without a response. (Unlike McCain-Rudy disagreements, Romney-McCain spats always suggest a degree of mutual personal animosity and disdain.)