2008 Watch

In a recent piece, Congressional Quarterly‘s Craig Crawford wrote:

While former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was once thought to be a threat to McCain, his star has faded since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Romney now seems to be the early favorite for the anybody-but-McCain vote.

Quinnipiac is out today with a poll measuring Americans’ feelings about political figures on a scale from 0 to 100, and Rudy Giuliani came out as the most popular, with a 64.2 rating. Barack Obama’s 58.8 rating was the second highest and McCain was third at 57.7 (although Obama’s rating is less reliable because 41 percent of respondents couldn’t answer because they didn’t know how they felt about him). Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has a rating of 49.

At the very least this should contradict Crawford’s unsupported claim that Giuliani’s “star has faded,” but it is also useful to look at a further breakdown of the numbers. Among self-described “white evangelical/born again Christians,” Giuliani has a 66.3 rating, also the highest in the survey. That puts him ahead of Condoleezza Rice (64.4), President Bush (58.1), John McCain (57.1) and Newt Gingrich (47.8). Mitt Romney’s rating among evangelicals/born again Christians was 46.4, but that figure is not reliable because 67 percent of respondents in this category didn’t know how they felt about him.

Yes, the New Hampshire primary is a long way off, and yes, even though evangelicals have positive feelings about Giuliani, that doesn’t mean they’d vote for him despite his social views. However, here we have yet another data point demonstrating Giuliani’s broad appeal even among those who are supposed to be the most antagonistic toward his candidacy. In spite of this, we are supposed to believe that McCain is the clear frontrunner for the nomination, and that his toughest rival is Romney, a one-term governor who is unknown to most of the country. Perhaps I’m mistaken in my belief that Giuliani will ultimately capture the Republican nomination, but it stuns me that so many pundits are still writing off his candidacy in the face of mounting empirical evidence that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.