No matter how flawed the process in Iowa, one side benefit of the caucuses is some wheat-chaff separation. Candidates who fail to meet their own (and the political establishment’s) expectations invariably start to feel pressure to withdraw. More often than not, they do, resulting in a trimmed-down field.
The Republican roster of candidates has already been pared down in advance of the caucuses (Gilmore, Brownback, and Tancredo all dropped out), but by the weekend, the field looks like it’ll get a little thinner still.
Several Republican officials close to Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign said they expect the candidate will drop out of the race within days if he finishes poorly in Thursday’s Iowa caucus.
Thompson’s campaign, which last spring and summer was generating fevered anticipation in the media and with some Republican activists, has never ignited nationally, and there are no signs of a late spark happening here in Iowa, where even a third-place finish is far from assured.
This reality — combined with a fundraising drought — left well-connected friends and advisers of Thompson Wednesday evening predicting that he will pull the plug on hype and hope before the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary....
“Without a solid third-place finish, there’s no point in going on,” a Thompson adviser said Wednesday. “It was an honorable race, and he turned out to be a good candidate. The moment had just passed.”
This comes, of course, just a few days after Thompson conceded to a group of voters that he’s “not particularly interested in running for president.”