I'm still right about Rudy
As regular readers know, one of my white whales is the off-parroted, simplistic "conventional wisdom" that Rudy Giuliani can't win the Republican nomination because he's a "social liberal." Well, I've been too busy to blog about it for the past few days, but I recently got a few new harpoons for my... harpoon thing, courtesy of Ryan Sager. Check out these numbers.
[T]he polls show that Rudy is the favorite not just of Republicans, but of conservatives. And my recent conversations -- on and off the record -- with state-level GOP activists shows that these folks range from enthusiastic to at least open to America's Mayor making a run for the Oval Office.
Start with the polls:
- Just last week, Gallup released a poll showing that four out of 10 Republicans consider "front-runner" McCain to be an "unacceptable" candidate. And he does worst with self-described conservatives, half of whom deem him unacceptable. But 73 percent of Republicans call Rudy "acceptable."
Meanwhile, another recent Gallup poll found that 29 percent of registered Republicans prefer Giuliani for the 2008 nomination, versus 24 percent who prefer McCain.
- But Rudy's got a problem in the South, right? Wrong. At least not in Georgia or Florida, according to work by Strategic Vision, a GOP polling firm not affiliated with any '08 campaign. In Florida, Rudy led McCain 39 percent to 28 percent in a June poll. In Georgia, Rudy leads 27 percent to 22 percent.
- But McCain would trounce Rudy in those states if people knew about his positions on abortion and gay rights (and his marital history), right? Wrong again. Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson told me of some "push polling" in Florida and Georgia - where his firm told voters about Rudy's positions and marital problems and about McCain's support for campaign-finance reform and working with Democrats against President Bush.
The effect on Rudy's numbers, Johnson said, "underwhelmed" his expectations significantly, merely putting the two candidates into a statistical dead heat - not launching the more conventionally conservative (at least on issues like abortion) McCain into the lead. "Some people who identify themselves as strong conservatives, even when we did do the push-poll questions in Georgia and Florida, were still more willing to go with Giuliani," Johnson said. "Strong, Christian conservatives."
- Same story nationwide: In the Quinnipiac thermometer poll released last month, which asked registered voters to rate their feelings about politicians on a scale of 0-100, Rudy came out as the most popular politician in America among Evangelicals - with a rating of 66, against McCain's 57 and George W. Bush's 60.
- What about McCain's "crossover appeal"? Isn't he a better shot against Hillary? Nope. Pretty much every poll taken on the matter shows Rudy beating Sen. Clinton by a much bigger margin than McCain would. In May, a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll showed Rudy with a nationwide nine-point lead over her; McCain, only a statistically insignificant 4 points. (And, in "blue" New York, where both Rudy and Hillary are known best, McCain loses to Hillary, as expected, while Rudy beats her in one of the most liberal states in the country - a state with 31 electoral votes.)
There are no guarantees, of course, but a Rudy nomination is definitely well within the realm of possibility. In fact, Sager goes even further -- he proclaims Giuliani the current front-runner.