Articles and Analysis


Two Sides of the Giuliani Coin

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Should he formally enter the race for president, Rudy Giuliani begins as a very popular figure among Republicans, according to the Gallup poll released earlier today. The perceived advantages of the former New York City Mayor over Senator John McCain on being "better in a crisis" (68% to 28%) and doing a better job on crime (78% to 17%) suggest an appeal is rooted in his identity as a "hero of 9/11 [and] a crime busting federal prosecutor," to quote today's article by Susan Page in USA Today. However, the far more important finding from that survey comes from this "money quote" from Page's story (thanks to Charles Franklin):

As fondly remembered as Giuliani is for responding to Sept. 11, however, most Americans don't know much else about him. Barely one in five Republicans knew that he supports abortion rights and civil unions for same-sex couples, the USA TODAY poll found. Nearly as many thought he was "pro-life" as said he was "pro-choice."

When they were told about his stance on those issues, his star dimmed. One in five Republicans said his views would "rule him out as a candidate" they could support. That included one-third of those who attend church every week, an important base of the GOP that makes up a third of party loyalists.

Another 25% of Republicans said his views made them less likely to support him, nearly double the proportion who said they made them more likely to support him.

For what it's worth, these are the sorts of questions that campaign pollsters tend to ask on internal surveys conducted early in the race. Campaign pollsters are less interested in early horse race numbers than in understanding how new information can change perceptions and support. Page's article did not include a link to those specific results, but Gallup typically releases results in separate results, so perhaps we will have more details later.

Consider the results Page discusses against these findings from the ABC News analysis of the most recent ABC/Washington Post poll:

McCain had his own difficulties with conservatives in 2000, and Giuliani leads McCain among conservative Republicans by 33 to 21 percent. It's among moderates that they're closer, 37-32 percent.

Giuliani and McCain also run about evenly among evangelical white Protestants, a core Republican group with whom McCain's had strained relations.

Most important, though, is Giuliani's advantage among committed Republicans, who, like their Democratic counterparts, are more apt to vote in primaries. Giuliani holds a 10-point advantage over McCain among this group; McCain, by contrast, runs quite competitively among independents who lean Republican. That was the case in 2000; his problem was that, outside of New Hampshire, not enough of them showed up to vote.

Given sample sizes, Giuliani's overall seven-point advantage over McCain among leaned Republicans is not significant at the customary 95 percent confidence level. Instead it's 82 percent likely that Giuliani has a real lead in the contest.

Collectively, these results support an intriguing possibility: Both Republican frontrunners may end up with problems with conservative, religious and/or committed Republicans, leaving a huge opening for a third candidate in the early primaries.



I've always thought Rudy could greatly alleviate much Republican concern over his pro-choice and pro-gay marriage positions by openly addressing that while they are his personal beliefs, both issues should be dealt with legislatively by the people's elected representative and neither issue would be core to the goals or objectives of his intended Administration.


barry youngerman:

There is plenty of honest wiggle room here.

On abortion, Giuliani can say that he, like most Americans, did not realize how much the courts have stretched Roe v. Wade to cover all three trimesters. He can pledge to appoint judges who will allow states to rectify that situation.

He can't pretend to be anti-gay, and he shouldn't, but he can repeat ad nauseum that he, like his likely Democratic opponents, opposes "marriage," and will appoint judges who will refrain from legislating on the matter for the whole country.


tom swift:

Finally someone has noticed the obvious. G. is recognizably Republican only in comparison with his coastal "elite" compatriots. His long-term stances on gun control, gay marriage, and abortion rights will kill him with the voters which the Republicans absolutely need. For instance, I don't care much about gay marriage or abortion rights, but I won't vote for anyone so stridently anti-self-defense as G. seems to be. In the current world situation, such an approach to political problems leads either to totalitarianism at home or surrender to our foreign foes. I demand much better of a president. And I'm not even a committed Republican, just a voter who's given up on the Dems as currently constituted.



I agree with tom swift. Hard to imagine what it would take for me to vote for a democrat, but Giuliani's gun control views prevent my support or vote. Be interesting to see how he handles this if he decides to run.



> leaving a huge opening for a third candidate in the early primaries.

Or, causing Republican primary voters to think strategically and go with someone who can win in the general election. Especially now that the "early primaries" include Nevada and California.



Domestic isn't an issue right now. Foreign policy is. People will overlook domestic to get the best candidate on foreign.


Bill Buko:

Forget all that stuff. just wait til Donna Hanover starts talking. Bye Bye Rudy, you old philanderer you.



I think that these issues (and of course, the one brought up by Bill Buko) help explain why Rudy seems to be moving a bit more slowly than Romney and McCain. Rudy likes being America's Mayor, and running will ensure he's never this popular again. He'll probably run. But I wouldn't be shocked if he decided not to.



I saw Giuliani on Hannity and Colmes the other night. Here is what he said about the three issues mentioned here.

He stressed that he hates abortion, but doesn't think we should ultimately put people in jail for it. However, he also said he would appoint strict constructionist judges who would likely tend to leave such issues to the states.

He took a similarly federalist attitude about gun control, saying there were different needs in different places and it shouldn't be legislated at the federal level.

His statement on homosexuality amounted to just repeating that he doesn't support gay marriage but does support everything up to it. Nothing new there.

On the whole I think I can tolerate a President with these views if he is strong on foreign policy. I especially like to hear a Presidential candidate that seems to have some respect for the idea of letting a few issues be resolved without federal interference.


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