We have already seen Duncan Hunter drop the race after a predictably poor showing in SC.
So who is next?
The headlines of the morning papers today, as seen on eGOPnews.com, are hinting that Fred Thompson is considering dropping the race after he was able to do little more than play the spoiler to the Huckabee campaign... of course they hinted at that before... but Fred had said that he needed a win or a strong second in SC to have a chance. And anyone who watched Fred's concession speech were left scratching their heads, wondering if he botched a withdrawal speech, or if he was trying to rally the troops on into Florida:
The AP Reports:
Despite the situation, Thompson was expected to bow out after failing to
win the states where he had hoped to perform strongly, Iowa and South Carolina.
The former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" actor returned home after
delivering a speech in South Carolina on Saturday that sounded like he was
calling it quits. He stopped short of doing so but some supporters suspected it
would only be a matter of time before Thompson withdraws.
Before South Carolina, several aides had said he probably would need to
finish first or a strong second in that race to go forward. Aides didn't expect
a decision from Thompson until sometime after the weekend.
With Fred Thompson out, the race will become a McCain, Huckabee, Romney, Rudy contest... heading into Florida where they are all within 7 points of one another, it will be a race to distinguish the have's from the have-not's in the GOP Primary.
Current poll averages have the top four hovering around 20%, and Thompson & Paul way behind the field with 8.5 and 5 points respectively.
Should Thompson drop, and likely endorse McCain, one would wonder if Fred's social conservatives could get behind McCain, who has been no friend to Social issues... Rudy and Romney will likely not benefit from Fred's voters as much as McCain and Huckabee will. Should those votes distribute evenly, we should expect similar results as we saw in SC happening in Florida.
If Fred does not drop out, it will likely only serve to keep Huckabee's numbers low and help his friend McCain, as was the case in SC.
Moving into Super Tuesday without Fred could definitely shake things up. None of the top four are out, but Rudy is close, especially without Florida.
We should all listen very hard to any chatter coming out of the Thompson campaign. Once he makes a move to stay in or get out, we can better handicap the Florida race.
One thing is certain... Romney is counting on a brokered convention, where his wins in uncontested states may help... at least until Super Tuesday... then he could find himself falling to the rear of the pack... But when you have a brokered convention, every delegate counts!
I will provide updates if any news breaks...