It’s pretty clear to me that these conservative leaders are making noise about a third party now in hopes that they will preemtively derail Giuliani in the primaries by weakening one of the best arguments for his nomination–that he’s the most electable. The argument would be a bit more credible if those same leaders were getting behind another candidate, but they aren’t. Richard Viguerie, for instance, has released a report titled, “Fred Thompson, the Faux Conservative.” Viguerie has made been attacking Republicans for betraying conservatives for decades, and was a thorn in the side of Ronald Reagan, who had this to say about Viguerie in his diary of Friday, February 26, 1982:
Social conservatives understandably have more of a beef with Giuliani than they ever could have had with Reagan. And I’m sure if you did a poll you could get some frustrated conservatives who will tell you now that they’d vote for a third party if Giuliani were the nominee. But with over a year before Election Day 2008, in the midst of the Republican primary, with the threat of a Hillary Clinton presidency still in the abstract, it’s easy for disgruntled conservatives to tell a pollster they’d hand the White House to Hillary rather than vote for Giuliani. But as next November approaches, and the stark contrast between Clinton and Giuliani becomes apparent, as conservatives see the Clintons on TV every day and realize that’s what they’ll be exposed to again for the next four to eight years, I would say that the actual number of Christian conservatives who would be inclined to stay home or vote for a third party would be quite small. This is especially true if Giuliani nominates a solid social conservative as a VP candidate, and keeps emphasizing the judges issue. Will social conservatives vote for a third party if the choice is between a candidate who is promising to appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Roberts and one who they know will make appointments in th mold of Ginsburg and Breyer? I just don’t see it happening on a large enough scale to swing the election.