Giuliani Blog Tracking the likely Presidential candidacy of Rudy Giuliani

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Signs of the Straw

Noting my Georgia straw poll piece over the Politicker, Josh Benson wonders whether Rudy's really clicking with conservative activists in the South, or whether they're just misinformed about the Mayor's social issue tendencies.

Because of the nature of the poll, for now at least I'd have to say it's the former. You don't vote in a straw poll unless you're a party activist who's unusually well informed about the candidates. And the most consistent features of these straw polls is not Rudy's strength -- he does well in some, and bottoms out in others -- but McCain's weakness. I have not seen the supposed frontrunner place better than fourth in any straw poll, while names like Allen, Romney, and Newt, all of whom lag in name ID polls, tend to do better with this savvier audience.

All of this tends to confirm DaveG's theory of the race -- that John McCain is this year's Joe Lieberman. Joementum led in most of the name ID polls taken in 2002 and 2003 -- and may now be forced to shed the "D" after his name. (See here for more McCain-Lieberman parallels.) On the Republican side, I have never seen a putative frontrunner with so little support at the grassroots level (note to Hotline: consultants, even in MI and SC, are not grassroots). Even Bob Dole was indisputably a stronger frontrunner in 1994 than John McCain is today.

This doesn't mean that everything comes up roses for Rudy. As DaveG notes, the Big Three amongst the party's activist base seem to be Allen, Romney and Rudy. But of the current "frontrunners," give the edge to Rudy, who seems to spark more interest and excitement with the base than McCain. And in any Republican primary, give the edge to the frontrunner.

Rudy does well, but why in Georgia? For a very basic reason that people who tend to overthink politics don't get: voters, even savvy ones, don't decide their vote on issues. They decide based on gut instincts. As someone who can lead in a crisis and communicate well, Rudy passes the gut instinct test with flying colors.

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