Jonathan Garthwaite
I had a chance to chat with Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports about the next set of polling numbers that will come out over the next few days.  Upcoming polling is of particular interest to political observers because it will be the first time since this election began that a candidate, who previously polled in the double digits, will be dropped off the list of options. 

Last night, Rasmussen's polling team made their nightly polling calls to likely voters nationwide and did not include Fred Thompson who officially dropped out of the race only hours before the polling was set to begin.  The results will be released shortly.

Which candidate will Fred's followers flock to?  Will they switch to one candidate as a block or will they disperse across the remaining four candidates?    We shall see.

Before Hewitt and Medved jump on the slightest shift in Romney's or McCain's direction as proof that their candidate of choice has clinched the election, Rasmussen urges caution.   His experience has shown that it takes some time for the electorate to absorb the reality that there are fewer choices.  He believes that it takes 48 hours after the news hits the morning paper (not TV) before polling results can be counted on to truly reflect a fully informed decision by the voters.

Even though polling was conducted last night, most Americans will read about Fred Thompson's exit in their local paper this morning.  Polling will also take place tonight but Thursday night’s polling which will be released on Friday will be your best bet if you're interested where the Republican race has turned since Thompson's exit.

UPDATE:  The new national polling numbers are out from Rasmussen Reports.

24% McCain  (-1% since Sunday's polling average)
19% Romney  unchanged
17% Huckabee  ( 2)
11% Giuliani ( 1)
6% Paul
*7% Thompson

A note from Scott Rasmussen: 

Daily tracking results are collected via nightly telephone surveys and reported on a four-day rolling average basis. Last night’s results were the first since Fred Thompson dropped out of the race. Thompson, due to his support on the first three nights of the poll, still attracts 7% of the vote. Last night, four of the five remaining candidates had an uptick in support from the previous night. Given the small size of a single night’s sample, it will be another day or two before the initial impact of Thompson’s departure can be reliably measured.


Jonathan Garthwaite

Jonathan Garthwaite is General Manager of Townhall.com/HotAir.com