About a month ago or more, I was the guest on radio show, and the host asked me to predict the two presidential nominees for 2008. The question came out of the blue, and I was by no means prepared to make such predictions at such an early date. Taking the bait, nonetheless, I had no trouble predicting that Hillary Clinton would be the Demcratic nominee. On the Republican side, I really didn’t have a clue. Relying mostly on what a wise Republican friend had told me recently, I blurted out “Giuliani.”
It’s still far, far too early to stand behind that prediction, but it’s now pretty clear that Rudy is the front-runner (assuming he’s running and will run all-out). That’s certainly the conclusion one would draw from these numbers put out by Giuliani’s exploratory committee today. In ten key states where the potential candidates have not yet spent much time (e.g., Flordia, Michigan, California, Illinois), Giuliani outpolls his nearest rival (usually but not always McCain) and generally by a decent margin. (I can’t vouch for any of the polls or their methodologies). The states do not include New Hampshire, Iowa, or South Carolina, but I seem to recall a recent poll showing Giuliani ahead or about in New Hampshire, which is probably the most important state of the three. Giuliani is also running ahead of McCain in national polls. The RCP average has him five points up.
Many believe that Giuliani will fade as his positions on social issues become better known, and that’s certainly possible. Indeed, a year ago I would have said it’s probable and two years ago, almost certain. One might guess that the issues as to which conservatives have problems with Giuliani are more fundamental, and thus more problematic, than the gripes that plague McCain. But from what I hear, it seems to be the other way around.
I still believe there are more than a de minimis number of conservatives who will be unable to support Giuliani under any circumstances. But that may prove more troubling in the general election than in the primaries.
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