Deroy Murdock: Rudy a Front-Running Underdog
NRO’s Contributing Editor backs up his claim with some very compelling evidence:
My biggest complaint regarding 2008 analysis is the near constant meme of “Once GOP voters find out about Rudy’s past, his support will nosedive.” Charlie Cook is one of the biggest proponents of this theory, despite the fact that his own polling directly contradicts this conclusion (Cook conducted a poll where he specifically laid out all Rudy’s past social views and then asked his Republican supporters if they still supported him for president. The answer was a resounding yes.-See here).
The oddest thing about the conventional wisdom may be its almost bulletproof imperviousness to the facts. An excellent example of this phenomenon is Arizona Senator John McCain’s oft-trumpeted status as frontrunner for the 2008 Republican nomination. Conversely, the cognoscenti titter at former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani as terminally liberal.
A new Quinnipiac University survey is just the latest in an almost unanimous array of polls that shows Giuliani, not McCain, heading the GOP’s 2008 parade.
The November 27 “Feeling Thermometer” from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute asked 1,623 registered voters to rate the warmth of national leaders from 0 –100. “The higher the number, the warmer or more favorable you feel toward that person, the lower the number, the colder or less favorable.” Among 20 top American leaders, Rudy Giuliani is rated No. 1 with a “temperature” of 64.2. McCain is third at 57.7. Giuliani’s standing among the 490 self-identified Republicans Quinnipiac surveyed is even more compelling. Republicans give Giuliani a very comfortable temperature of 71.7. That puts him just behind Rice (72.3) and Bush (72.1), neither of whom is expected to be on the ballot in 2008. Among those who might run, Giuliani is well ahead of McCain (62.2), Gingrich (58.9), and Romney (52.8). (Error margin for this subset: +/- 4.4 percent). Most fascinating is Giuliani’s performance among self-professed “White evangelicals/Born-again Christians.” Here again, among 439 of the study’s most socially conservative respondents, Giuliani is at the top of the heap. He scores 66.3, ahead of Rice (64.4), Bush (58.1), McCain (57.1), Gingrich (47.8), and Romney (46.4).
In other recent surveys, Giuliani also leads the way. Pollster Scott Rasmussen found Giuliani with 24 percent to 18 for Rice and 17 for McCain in a November 4 – 7 national survey of 1,050 Republicans and 203-GOP-leaning independents. With Rice excluded and her votes reallocated, “Giuliani would top McCain 32 percent to 22 percent,” Rasmussen told me.
In Strategic Vision’s selected state-by-state surveys released November 6, Giuliani outpaced McCain by nine points in Georgia, 19 in Florida and Washington State, 22 in New Jersey, and 23 points in Pennsylvania. Romney rose no higher than third in these states. McCain only can point to Michigan as a state where he tops Giuliani — specifically 33 percent to 25. The conventional wisdom further argues that Giuliani benefits from his high name ID in the wake of his universally covered and highly appreciated leadership on September 11. But Giuliani is not outshining a state senator here or a second-term House member there. McCain is widely known from coast to coast, as are Gingrich, Bush, and Rice. Giuliani easily outpolls the former speaker of the House of Representatives and the man who was runner-up for the 2000 GOP presidential nomination. Giuliani tops the current secretary of State and the president of the United States in general “warmth” and comes within 0.6 and 0.4 “degrees” of them in popularity among Republicans.
As for his alleged liberalism, Giuliani, to be sure, will face resistance from Republican primary voters who differ with him on abortion, gay marriage, and gun ownership. While Giuliani’s views on these issues eventually may gravitate to the right, he will address his potential critics with an enormous reservoir of goodwill, as Quinnipiac’s numbers show. Some have speculated that Giuliani’s numbers will fall once GOP voters across America learn that he favors civil unions, is pro-choice, and has called for greater gun regulations. Perhaps.
But his numbers could hold or even rise once Republicans outside Gotham learn that, as mayor, he cut the local tax burden by 19 percent, jettisoned racial and gender preferences for contracting (during his first month as mayor, no less), hunted deadbeat dads and made them pay their child support, implemented charter schools, promoted “vouchers” (always embracing that word), and hosed down seedy, crime-infested areas such as Times Square. It now is safe, literally, for Mary Poppins — a new Disney musical that opened on 42nd Street, where pornographic films unspooled prior to Giuliani’s tenure.
Can you say, “family values?”
What we can today is that Giuliani currently outruns his rivals for the GOP nomination, even if most of the press corps’ eyes are too welded shut to notice. With the polls showing him ahead and the conventional wisdom dismissing his prospects, Rudolph W. Giuliani has achieved the impossible: He’s a front-running underdog.
It is also curious that these pundits never consider that opinions on Mitt Romney will change once his support of Abortion and Gay Rights pre-2002 are publicized by evangelical groups that have only just started on this project.
Stating that Rudy will lose support among the Republican rank-in-file once his past social views are known is an opinion, not a fact. What I would like to start seeing from these pundits is some empirical evidence to back up their claims. Mr. Murdock has laid his cards on the table, it’s time for the critics to show theirs.