Michael Barone discusses the apparent transfer of votes between Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson and poses the following question and answer:

But they must also be people who believe Giuliani and Thompson have something in common that they’d like to see in the White House. What is that? … Strong leadership at a time when we’re at risk of attack, I think.

On cue, the Gallup releases results (here and here) from a poll on what qualities voters want in their next president, broken down by party:

Top Five Qualities Partisans Are Looking for in Next President

March 26-29, 2007

Republicans/Lean Republican

Democrats/Lean Democratic

Honesty/straightforward (30%)

Honesty/straightforward (34%)

Leadership/strength (22%)

Listen to people/not special interests (13%)

Integrity (13%)

Put U.S. first/focus on domestic issues (13%)

Competent/govern effectively (11%)

Leadership/strength (12%)

Good moral character/family values (8%)

Competent/govern effectively (10%)

Now these are probably things that people have to demonstrate to be considered. And it is also why challenges to these are so threatening, such as allegations of Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping (which the press and some activists seem to believe), Rudy Giuliani’s links to Bernie Kerik (which has little traction yet), or Democratic allegations of McCain switching parties (old news, but tweaking distrust). By attacking people’s character, voters no longer balance the issues.

This is also why Barack Obama is so dangerous to Hillary Clinton. How does she compare on "honest and/or/ straightforwardness" or "listening to people, not special interests"? Poorly. Very poorly.

Now, this is different than what we see now with the endorsement process. Politicians are endorsing for other reasons. Political leaders, either electeds or interest group leaders,  want access, power, and their agendas to be advanced. Business leaders (high dollar donors) want access, among other things.

This is also something to keep in mind when you look at the level of grassroots support in these fundraising numbers. Why does Obama have twice as many donors as Clinton and McCain as Romney? (or that Sam Brownback has 2/3rd the number of donors as Mitt Romney, even though Romney outraised him over 10-to-1?)