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Election 2008: Early Polling – It’s All About Giuliani

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While the 2008 presidential election may seem far away, potential candidates are already positioning themselves for a run. With high stakes and partisanship running at a fever pitch, the campaign is likely to start the moment the midterm election ends a few weeks from now.

Everyone has their favorite candidate and every candidate already has surrogates out on the news networks and in the blogosphere promoting them and raising their name awareness with the public.

It might surprise a lot of these partisan promoters to learn that according to the latest polls the public has already pretty much narrowed the field of candidates to a very small group who are leading so overwhelmingly in public approval that some of the more minor candidates might be best served by not attempting attempting a doomed run.

According to the most recent Marist Poll, Hillary Clinton completely dominates the herd of Democratic candidates. They rate her at 35% with her rating increasing, while the nearest contenders are Al Gore and John Edwards and their percentages are less than half hers and are dropping. The lesser candidates are barely even registering with the voters with at most a percentage point or two of support. These results are similar in a recent poll from CNN.

The Republican race is a bit less one-sided, with three meaningful contenders and the rest of the pack lagging very far behind. Almost all the polls show Rudy Giuliani ahead by several points with increasing support, followed by John McCain and Condoleeza Rice fighting it out for second place with flagging support. The Marist Poll cited earlier has Giuliani at 23%, Rice at 20% and McCain at 15%. CNN shows Giuliani with an even stronger lead at 31%, followed by McCain at 20%, but it doesn't factor in Rice.

Some of the polls have also done individual approval ratings on the candidates and even candidate pairings to see who would win under various scenarios.

Approval rating polls universally show Giuliani with the strongest approval of all candidates of all parties and the lowest disapproval. A very recent Time Magazine poll shows Giuliani with a 51% approval rating to 43% for Hillary Clinton, 40% for John McCain and 39% for Al Gore. Giuliani also has a low disapproval rating at only 40% compared to a 53% disapproval for Clinton, a 57% disapproval for McCain and 56% disapproval for Gore.

Candidate comparrison polls also show Giuliani in the strongest position, beating Dermocratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton by a larger margin than any other potential Republican candidate. The Marist Poll shows only Giuliani or McCain beating Clinton, and Giuliani does it with a comfortable 7 point lead.

Giuliani has advantages which only a few other candidates share.

• He's not in Congress. With approval ratings in the low 20s and possibly going lower as a result of the Foley affair, and a disapproval rating averaging about 69%, Capitol Hill is like a political leper colony. This spells very bad news for Hillary Clinton, George Allen and a number of lesser contenders.

• He's not part of the Bush administration. Bush's has much better approval than Congress, but they're low enough to curse anyone associated with him to some degree. It's actually surprising that this hasn't hurt Secretary of State Rice's approval ratings more, but it's telling that no one else in the administration is even being looked at as a serious potential candidate. McCain, Allen and most of the other Republicans also suffer for Bush's shortcomings because they have supported him publicly on major controversial issues.

• He's not running for reelection in 2006. Other outsider-type candidates have to run for reelection to their current jobs and that gives them an opportunity to annoy the voters as has been ably demonstrated by George 'Macaca' Allen. Even Governor Mitt Romney has a scandal dogging his heels. It will be difficult for anyone running in 2006 not to have the criticism they face in their state elections carry over to the national election in 2008.

Of course, Giuliani does have his own negatives. He went through a notorious divorce a few years ago, something which also plagues McCain whose adultery is less well known because it was longer ago. Hillary Clinton is rowing the other side of the same boat with a husband who is the best-loved serial adulterer in the nation, which didn't hurt him much, but may reflect very negatively on her. Giuliani is also a cancer survivor a negative he shares with John McCain, although both were successfully treated for two of the most common and survivable forms of cancer.  Interestingly, although Giuliani is viewed as relatively moderate, polls show him with substantially stronger support among moral conservatives than John McCain.

Although we are still two years out from the final vote, all of the polls clearly suggest that both the GOP primary and the general election are Giuliani's to lose. He currently has fewer negatives and more popular support than anyone else, and his outsider status insulates him to a large extent from the partisan bitterness which is almost certainly going to dominate the next two years in politics. As the campaign begins in earnest after November some of the other contenders are bound to make themselves better known – which is going to help the more obscure figures and may work against the better known candidates, but if Giuliani can retain his lead in the polls or regain it by the middle of next year he's going to be awfully hard to beat.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Donnie Marler

    Fine article, Dave. To my mind Guliani has the significant advantage of having proven beyond a shadow of a doubt he can be a strong, effective leader in times of crisis.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I didn’t want to go too much into personal opinions in this piece, but I absolutely agree that Giuliani has a forceful and determined style of leadership which is just want the country needs. He won’t put up with crap from either of the extremes, and we’ve gone too long with weak leaders who let special interests and power groups harass and bully them.

    Dave

  • http://www.dailykos.com/user/souldrift JP

    On the opposite side, I think the best choice might just be Wes Clark, who has each of the 3 traits you list here. Whether he can win the nomination is another question.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Clark is somewhat tainted by his Clinton associations, and his utter lack of charisma doesn’t help. He also has zero political experience. The only generals who have been successful as presidential candidates in the past have been ones who are so overwhelmingly distinguished that they transcend the military and/or attained much higher rank than Clark, or else they went from the military into politics and then ran for national office. If Clark were to serve a term as governor of some state I could see him as a real contender in 2012.

    As things stand right now, Clark is no Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant or Dwight Eisenhower. He just doesn’t have the rep or the credentials.

    Dave

  • http://www.iowansforromney.blogspot.com/ Jeff Fuller

    Rudy’s pretty cool in crisis, that is true. Why hasn’t he organized like all the others? He’s got nothing else to do.

    The social liberalism will make him a tough sell in Iowa and SOuth Carolina.

    Romney is absolutely “free and clear” from any wrongdoing in the whole Big Dig fiasco. He did everything in his power to get control of the Big Dig early in his term but was stopped by the MA legislature. He even appealed it to the Mass Supreme Court and they denied his hearing saying it “lacked legal urgency” (but, boy, their changing the millenia old definition of marriage was such an urgent legal matter by contrast). Romney was finally given control after the collapse and death. Horrible situationn but he has led effectively through the probe. Nothing about the Big Dig can be blamed on him. He’s clean.

    I think Rudy would make a great VP to ROmney.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    I wouldn’t mind Giuliani as President, I must say. Wouldn’t mind it at all, assuming he stays the Giuliani he’s always been and doesn’t decide this or that position needs to be adopted if he wants to win x state.

    I’d prefer McCain, but Giuliani would be okay. He was damn good for NYC and he’s certainly shown he knows how to handle crises, terrorism or no.

    All that said, I just don’t know how well a two-years-out poll reflects things. It can’t, for example, take into account people who haven’t announced, or people who are expected to announce but won’t. And any of those things could change everything, dramatically, about the election.

    P.S. My money is on Mark Warner for the Democratic nomination.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption12

    Lots of interesting statistics, but dont you think it’s a bit early? Those statistics might easily represent nothing more than name recognition. Plus there’s always that trend for early leaders to get tackled down by new guys with the momentum.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    As a New Yorker, Giuliani is something of a hero to me. I saw firsthand how he turned NYC around and the contrast is astounding–not to mention his handling of 9/11. I hope you’re right about his chances.

  • Nancy

    O/s & balanced assessment Dave. Kudos in excelsis. BD – THIS is how a political article is written; take note!

    I do hope the Dems find someone else to run besides Hillary, because she’s a shoo-in for Easiest Loser if that’s who they field. While I kind of admire her as a ballsy woman in a man’s field, I DON’T want her as president – and I’m a rabid Feminazi, so that’s pretty bad.

    I like Giuliani, too, & would have no problem voting for him, altho I’d prefer him to run as an Independent, beholden to neither party, and especially as a gesture to indicate that he’s certainly not under the thumb of the current GOP neo-con-nazi/religious-right/Big Oil cartel that currently rules the WH. Anybody either endorsed or sponsored by the same party that fostered BushCo & is embroiled in Abramoff, Cunningham, Delay, Foley, Hastert, Ney, Rove & Co. will be anathema to a lot more folks than just me.

    Jeff (#6) is right, Romney is indeed innocent of the Big Dig fiasco – he’s just trying to take over & fix the mess after the fact, as a good governor should – but he’s got other problems, mainly his affiliation with the LDS church & its strange, very non-monotheistic, cultish theology & dictatorial hold on all LDS church members by the leadership in Utah. The LDS can claim all they want that they’re ‘christian’, but their dogma says otherwise, & their history is very tainted w/political lowjinks, assassinations, coverups, & other criminal activities over the past 1-3/4 centuries, right up to the recent past. Pity, ’cause otherwise he seems like a good man, for the most part.

    Wes Clark … now there’s an injustice. Another good man, but so utterly faceless, that even after his run 2 years ago I still can’t place him except as a retired general. Deserves better, but I just don’t know how he’ll ever do it if that didn’t get him recognition.

    Who is there in the field, if anyone, who’s more in the old pre-neocon mold, Dave?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I think Rudy would make a great VP to ROmney.

    Why would a leading contender take the VP slot behind someone who’s virtually unknown outside of his home state?

    All that said, I just don’t know how well a two-years-out poll reflects things. It can’t, for example, take into account people who haven’t announced, or people who are expected to announce but won’t. And any of those things could change everything, dramatically, about the election.

    How dramatically things could change is debatable, but I wrote this article as a starting benchmark to sort of sum up where things stand right before the interim election. As I noted in the article, things will start to change once the election is over and people start really focusing on 2008.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    I shouldn’t think Giuliani would run as VP to Romney, either. As Mr. Spock would say, it is not logical.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Who is there in the field, if anyone, who’s more in the old pre-neocon mold, Dave?

    If that’s your criteria, ironically one of your most likely picks would be Newt Gingrich, but his approval/disapproval numbers are horrendous. He might be able to get the GOP nomination, but I think he’d be hopeless in the general election. Gingrich originated the ‘Contract with America’ which was part of what got a lot of the religious right folks motivated, but he’s not a religious nut and he’s not actually a Neocon.

    Most of the folks that I’d want to see running aren’t likely to try this time. Mark Sanford will probably wait until 2012 or 2016, and I think Jack Kemp has given up politics, though he’s not totally out of the picture. Christopher Shays would be an interesting candidate. I’d also like to see J. C. Watts considered as a VP possibility to go with a candidate from the Northeast. The GOP ought to nominate a black VP just to remind people which party really gives a damn about african americans.

    Hell, let’s just draft Neal Bootz and force him to run…

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    Looks like the dems are on track to nominate Hillary; too bad for them since she’s doomed to lose due to her widespread antagonism as a Pushy Broad and being a senator instead of a governor. The only way she could win is if the reps put up the wrong candidate and she can blow him out of the water with a bold attack.

    Boldness is a big issue, as GWB has demonstrated by winning with boldness in spite of his great deficiencies in almost all other areas. Boldness is a good proxy for leadership to most voters who would rather a guy state his position and lose than hide behind vagueness, like Kerry and Gore.

    Giuliani is a good choice since he was the Governor of the Great State of New York City. And he’s bold. For example, he could come up with a Bold Plan to solve the Iraq situation and get our guys out of there.

    Romney is hopeless since he’s a Mormon, and to most americans the only religion spookier than mormonism is islam: not a good position to be in. It was only recently that americans quit considering catholics unelectable. Romney would open the door for Hillary because the only thing worse than a Pushy Broad is a Cultist. She’d win on Boldness, an attribute she’d never be granted as long as she was just a Pushy Broad. The reps won’t let him get nominated.

    McCain is cursed by his submission to GWB. While all his ass-kissing and knee-bending, intended to endear him to the rep establishment, seemed a good strategy to McCain and his inept handlers, it robs him of heroism so he’ll fail the boldness test. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s a senator not a governor. Hillary vs. McCain gives the dems a possibility of successful strategy and why would smart reps want to do that?

    Allen is a non-starter.

    It’ll be Hillary vs. Rudy and Rudy will win. Then he’ll devise a strategy for exiting the hated Iraq war which will be satisfactory.

  • Donnie Marler

    I also don’t see Giuliani running as the VP with Romney. If he’s on the ticket at all he’ll be in the top slot.
    I honestly don’t expect the Democrats to nominate Hillary. I believe the Republicans would jump up and down if they did.
    As for retired Generals running, Wes Clark has no chance. Colin Powell? Maybe.
    Guiliani-Powell 2008? I’d vote for it!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Now, it could be worse. Romney could be a witch or a seventh-day-adventist.

    I’m not sure how much of a liability Romney would be as a VP running with Giuliani, but I think he would drag the ticket down even as a VP. People just find mormons creepy.

    I think Bliffle has the right take on McCain too – he’s too weird and blows in the wind too much. People like someone they can have confidence in and Giuliani stays on message better than McCain does.

    Dave

  • Arch Conservative

    Here we go again……….

    Rudy Guiliani, although possessing very good management skills is just to liberal to win the GOP nomination. You don’t have to be a political guru to know this. yeah he’s a nice guy but he aint going to be the GOP’s guy in 2008. Simple as that.

    For all of you doubting Romney because he’s a mormon let me just point a few things out. First of all Romney may talk about his faith if you ask him but he’s not exactly the type of that goes on and on about his faith in his political life. I live in NH so we get a lot of Massachusetts nes coverage here and I can’t remember one time where Romney felt it necessary to bring up his faith in terms of how it affected his decision making proccess as governor.

    And to those of you like Bliffle and Nancy who seem to think that being a mormon is going to prevent him from getting the nod because “average” Americans will think he is some kind of loon…..well I wouldn’t expect anything less from people like you who seem to be suspect of anyone of a christian/christian related faith.

    Most Americans will look at Mitt Romney and see what an honest decent family man is. See that he does not engage in any radical or extreme behavior motivated by religion. They will see that although he is mormon, he is actually not so different from themselves.

    I realize that there may be some evangelical hardline Christians that have a problem voting for Romney in the primaries but in the general election when faced with Romney, who is truly a social conservative/traditionalist, or someone like Hillary who is two steps to the right of Castro, those people will have no problem whatsoever saying “Romney’s my guy!”

    Lastly……….although it is still very early Romney has been polling very wellin Iowa and NH. We all know that early momentum in the primaries goes along way to determing the party nominee so I think this bodes well for Romney. Also Romney is very intelligient and surrounds himself with only the finest caliber of people who know how to get the job done.

    SO you guys can keep droning on about Guiliani, who really has no shot, and decrying Romney’s mormonism but I will be around in primary season to gloat.

  • Bliffle

    “Rudy Guiliani, although possessing very good management skills is just to liberal to win the GOP nomination.”

    The GOP will pick the guy who has the best chance of winning.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    With the democrats going to straight-out socialism this election, the GOP can afford to move a bit to the left and still remain solidly conservative by comparison.

    And Arch, are YOU a Mormon, because I can’t see anyone else taking Romney seriously. And give me a source for your ‘polling very well’ in Iowa and New Hampshire – does this mean 2% instead of the 1% he’s getting nationwide?

    GOP victory in 2008 is all about ‘South Park Republicans’. They’re the ones who are pissed enough at the left to come out and vote. Did you see the South Park episode on Mormonism? It says it all about how they regard nutty cultists – “Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb”.

    Dave

  • Arch Conservative

    Bliffle………

    Guiliani is pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage. Two strikes right there. He isn’t going to get the GOP nod. I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about that. And also…. if the GOP thinks that the Dems are intent on running Hillary in 2008 they are not going to have any fear of their guy looking to right wing because the GOP knows that the American voting population will be closer to thier guy than Hillary’s left wing socialist true self.

    Dave…….. so you believe that most Americans will just hear the word mormon and make a knee jerk reaction that Romney is some kind of radical religious zealot despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing in his past to prove this, rather only years of evidence that shows he is a nomral, decent, if somewhat conservative family man?

    The Pats game is on in a few minutes but I will provide links later tot he polling I read about in NH and IA with respect to Romney.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    And Arch, are YOU a Mormon, because I can’t see anyone else taking Romney seriously. And give me a source for your ‘polling very well’ in Iowa and New Hampshire – does this mean 2% instead of the 1% he’s getting nationwide?

    Don’t discount Romney. Read Revelations, Dave. Mitt is the anti-Christ. I know many Mormons – I like most of them but the Fundamentalists scare me as much as bin Laden. If the Presidential election were held today I could easily cast my vote for Hillary with no guilt or ambivalence.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Guiliani is pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage. Two strikes right there. He isn’t going to get the GOP nod. I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about that.

    I’ve got bad news for you, Arch. So is Bush and he managed to lie his way into two terms. You’ve also forgotten that the GOP is run by gays who are probably getting ready to take a more active and open role by now.

    And also…. if the GOP thinks that the Dems are intent on running Hillary in 2008 they are not going to have any fear of their guy looking to right wing because the GOP knows that the American voting population will be closer to thier guy than Hillary’s left wing socialist true self.

    There is no candidate who beats Hillary by a larger margin than Giuliani as the polls stand right now. Why take chances?

    Dave…….. so you believe that most Americans will just hear the word mormon and make a knee jerk reaction that Romney is some kind of radical religious zealot despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing in his past to prove this, rather only years of evidence that shows he is a nomral, decent, if somewhat conservative family man?

    Yes, I believe exactly that. Go watch ‘Big Love’ sometime and check out the Harry Dean Stanton character – that’s what most people think Mormons are.

    Dave

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    You know, Dave, you may have hit the nail on the head so to speak. What Conservative Americans don’t seem to understand is that most gays are VERY Conservative in their politics. Most Conservatives share my belief that government has no role in individual sexuality. It’s just the Fundamentalists who are frightened of homosexuality that react like rabid bats. Perhaps that’s because the majority of white Fundamentalist Christian males are deeply closeted homosexuals.

  • Arch Conservative

    Romney is the anti-christ and the GOP is run by gays behind closed doors?

    Sounds like you guys have been smoking some of that stuff that slick willie never inhaled.

    Nalle…….the people that take thier cues as to how to vote based on TV shows are the ignorant types woh usually vote Democrat anyhow. Nothing lost there.

    As for you Silas I have no regard whatsoever for anyone that would vote for Hillary Clinton. Also you’re a masshole voting for Patrick so you’re obviously not even worth acknowledging in the future.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Oh, Arch. What is it about Patrick that reviles you? The fact that he’s black? The fact that’s he’s a CONSERVATIVE democrat? The fact that a Patrick Administration will save the Commonwealth from the damage inflicted by Romney and his lieutenant bitch? I, for one, feel it is necessary to acknowledge arch conservatives and expose them for what they really represent.

    Taliban.
    Terrorist.
    Fundamentalist Christian.
    Arch conservative.
    Different words, yet complete clones of each other.

    Free America – Hillary 2008!

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dave, you wrote a nice article about former MAYOR Rufolph Giuliani. Speaking as someone born and raised in New York, the only thing I have to say on the whole matter is that if we ever get to dealing with a Giuliani candidacy (which is far from certain) we will be confronted by all the things he did as mayor.

    And Mayor Giuliani was not a spotless individual. Plenty of folks with axes and piano wire will show up with a lot to say.

  • Arch Conservative

    “Oh, Arch. What is it about Patrick that reviles you? The fact that he’s black?”

    Another ignorant race baiting argument from another ignorant race baiting lefty.

    I’ll tell you why I don’t like Patrick and then I’m going to ignore you [Personal attack deleted].

    Patrick is not conersvative. He is very liberal. He is on the record saying he supports in state tuition for illegal immigrants, he would not oppose tax increases and he has supported convicted criminals numerous times.

    [Personal attack deleted]

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Ruvy, I wasn’t the one who misidentified Giuliani as a governor, that was some moron in the comments.

    And I think Silas has it dead on in #22. Way too often to be coincidence it’s the rabid relgious types who turn out to have sexual skeletons in their capacious closets.

    Dave

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Another ignorant race baiting argument from another ignorant race baiting lefty.

    I could have Christ baited and decided against it. And I’m far from a lefty. I’m more Libertarian than anything.

    I’ll tell you why I don’t like Patrick and then I’m going to ignore you because you’re a fucking moron.

    I’ll admit I’m a moron. Now will you admit you can’t ignore me because you have some strange attraction to me?

    Patrick is not conersvative. He is very liberal. He is on the record saying he supports in state tuition for illegal immigrants, he would not oppose tax increases and he has supported convicted criminals numerous times.

    Wow, you must be on the Romney payroll. He’s opposed to lowering taxes because he understands that right now Massachusetts is in a severe financial mess. Tax cuts would not be prudent. Some convicted criminals earn second chances. Is that not part of the Christian dogma? Are we not supposed to turn the other cheek? Oh, I forgot, when Conservatives turn the other cheek it has to do with anal sex.

    Now Silas why don’t you take your bullshit propaganda and stick it stright up your ass.

    Thanks for the proposition but sorry, dude, I’m in a committed relationship.

  • Lumpy

    Got to give arch credit for the most blatant violation of the comment policy I’ve seen.

    Isn’t he some sort of christian? Why is he so rabid to put an idolator in office?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    We all have skeletons in our closets. Were I to step forward in a big way, loudmouth that I am, the skeletons in mine would surely step forth to dog me.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Everyone has their skeletons, the question is really which candidates have already aired theirs and more or less neutralized them, and Giuliani has a real edge in that area.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    Silas, good ripostes: witty & elegant. Thanks for the laughs.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Of course, Arch provides his own unintentional humorous content and provides awfully good material to work with.

    Dave

  • Mohjho

    Dave
    Giuliani seems a decent and safe choice to throw in with in 2008. My choice in 2000 was McCain, but I’m not impressed with him in the last 6 years. He comes off as rather unstable and as an appeaser to the religious right.

    Also don’t forget, both Carter and Clinton were last minute runners that overcame the established lineup of candidates to become presidents. You may waste so much time trying to defend against Hillary, that you failed to see the upstarts.

  • Ty

    The GOP is stupid.

    If Hilary Clinton or Barrack Obama is the Democratic Nominee, Guliani is the opponent????

    No way does Guliani beat either the first woman or first black president.

    I am surprised the following guy hasn’t thrown his name into the mix:

    BOBBY JINDHAL

    This guy is the GOP young phenom. Catholic and conversative, he was elected to the House in 04 carrying 92% of the vote in Lousiana’s District 1. He was re-elected with 88%, and before, nearly pulled off winning the Governor’s Race.

    He is a good counter to Clinton or Obama because he is Indo-American, and the GOP can counter the whole first black or first woman thing with first minority.

    He would have the following of white red state america (because he is big into the Bible and Catholicism) and minorities.

    Jindhal would be a tough foe for either Clinton or Obama, but I wonder why he isn’t considering it.