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Tilting at Windmills

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December 11, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GIULIANI CRATERING.... ABC has a new national poll out, and on the Democratic side it's a snooze: no one has gained or lost more than three points of support.

On the Republican side, however, the news is much more interesting: Huckabee is gaining and Giuliani is falling. In fact, he's cratering. He's lost 9 points overall, and as the handy chart on the right shows, he's losing big in every single subcategory. Most interesting, I think, is his free fall among people who are "very closely" following the race. This seems like a bellwether, no? These people have already reacted to the news that Giuliani tried to hide the details of his security expenses back in 2000 because he didn't want anyone to know he was visiting his mistress in the Hamptons, but surely the less attuned will eventually hear about this too.

It's hard to call this good news, since Huckabee and the rest are no prizes either, but someone has to be the worst of the lot, right? And Giuliani is it. So: good news it is.

Kevin Drum 5:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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Comments

I don't know what to hope for re: the Republican side of things. I also have no idea what will happen.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 11, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's good news because Guiliani 1) is (was) most likely to beat the Dem candidate and 2) is the most likely to steer the US toward fascism.

Posted by: Disputo on December 11, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK
It's hard to call this good news, since Huckabee and the rest are no prizes either, but someone has to be the worst of the lot, right? And Giuliani is it.

I think you may be mistaking "the one whose negatives are most well-known to progressives who have been actively engaged over the last several years" for "worst".


Posted by: cmdicely on December 11, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Who are these people who are switching to Romney? Hard to see any group in the GOP falling for him, as gullible as they might be. Is it mostly the money cons?

Weird - Clinton vastly leading Obama and Edwards in "understands problems".

Posted by: K on December 11, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK
Who are these people who are switching to Romney? Hard to see any group in the GOP falling for him, as gullible as they might be. Is it mostly the money cons?

I would presume that's it; he would seem to be a more natural place for them to run than Huckabee, who doesn't seem as naturally friendly to their interests and who might, even if he were to change positions for pragmatic political reasons, announce that he was just pandering to them, which would kind of undermine the work that faction has put into getting people to buy off on its propaganda.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 11, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Here are some more graphs, care of Big Media Matt.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 11, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it's fitting that the time axis in the graph is reversed. Perfect decpiction for the temporally regressive political party.

Posted by: gregor on December 11, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I have always viewed Rudy as a political light weight. To be truely successful at electoral politics takes a certain skill set that eludes the former mayor.

In Huckabee and Romney, I am looking forward to watching two big time (in their own right) political vipers go at each other's throats.

May the worst snake win.

Posted by: Keith G on December 11, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Good news. I really think the authoritarian Giuliani would be the worst of the lot, perhaps worse than Bush on rule of law and civil liberties issues.

I agree the "Very closely" number ought to be particularly telling. And National Review deciding to endorse Romney ought to help blunt him further. Still, I'm not entirely convinced he's cratering. Intrade still has him at 42% chance of winning, by far the favorite and close to his high.

Posted by: Crust on December 11, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

It will be Romney vs. Clinton. Romney wins.

Posted by: Pat on December 11, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hard to say which is the worst Republican of the bunch (imagine voter enthusiasm if *that* were what the election decided), but I think I'd have to settle on Giuliani.

Posted by: junebug on December 11, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Here are some more graphs, care of Big Media Matt.
Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 11, 2007 at 5:55 PM

Interesting graph! It's ironic that when matched Edwards and McCain are the strongest of each respective party, but are trailing behind for the nomination.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on December 11, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Huckabee may be surging now, but when people see this: Game over.

http://syndication.nationaljournal.com/images/HuckXmascard.pdf

Posted by: Pat on December 11, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know whether Giuliani is the worst of the lot, but he is the one who seems to most resemble George W. Bush in the sense that he is not really committed to a political ideology, but to blatant corruption and criminality.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 11, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK
It's good news because Guiliani 1) is (was) most likely to beat the Dem candidate and 2) is the most likely to steer the US toward fascism.

No; it's good news because Giuliani is far and away most likely to start World War III and blow the world up. McCain is most likely to win in a general election, and, while Rudy is the biggest fascist of the bunch, they're all so bad on that point that you might as well put the Bill of Rights in an Aristocrats joke as elect any of them. Only Rudy is a clear existential threat.

Posted by: R Johnston on December 11, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

What's up with the "strong support" dropping 40 percent in a month? how "strong" could it have been?

Posted by: jhm on December 11, 2007 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think Giuliani was one of the most beatable candidates in a general election (I mean, the guy has several walk-in closets full of skeletons), so I don't agree that this is particularly good news. (Admittedly, though, if Giuliani *were* to get elected, he'd likely be the most disastrous of the lot...)

Posted by: Benson on December 11, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Good to see "Straight Talk" tanking also.

Posted by: Econobuzz on December 11, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

El Duce II, going down in flames. Good news! Next "lesser evil" will just carry on with the same lame ideology.

Posted by: CTF on December 11, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think Giuliani was one of the most beatable candidates in a general election (I mean, the guy has several walk-in closets full of skeletons), so I don't agree that this is particularly good news. (Admittedly, though, if Giuliani *were* to get elected, he'd likely be the most disastrous of the lot...)

That's pretty much my view: most likely to be beatable/most likely to end the world if I'm wrong about the first part. After the Reign of the Burning Bush, I no longer expect the media or most Americans to bat an eye at what normally would get a candidate laughed out of polite society. So, big risk there if Rudy is on the ticket.

I admit to watching the GOP candidates' struggles with a horrified fascination. How could it be that any of these fools, thugs, bigots and certifiably insane people could get the nomination? And yet one of them has to.

Posted by: shortstop on December 11, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say of the Republicans, Romney is the least bad. He's a complete flip-flopper, but to my way of thinking, it's better to be a flip-flopper than someone who sincerely believes in awful ideas, like Giuliani, McCain and Huckabee--or Bush for that matter.

After Romney, I'd say Giuliani and McCain are about tied. Giuliani is extremely arrogant. I believe he would be very dangerous as president because of his combination of arrogance and nastiness. McCain isn't so nasty, but he's so nauseatingly self-righteous it's enough to make you puke! He can't comprehend the idea that the U.S. does anything wrong. And he thinks the treatment he experienced as a POW makes him the ultimate victim, as if the U.S. didn't victimize the Vietnamese far more than the other way around.

The worst of all is probably Huckabee, because with him religious fanaticism is added to the arrogance and ignorance that characterize the Republicans in general.

I certainly won't be voting for any of them.

Posted by: Lee on December 11, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

I would guess that it's not scandals that are hurting Giuliani, but the other Republican candidates starting to build name recognition and growing support. The votes are just sliding off from Giuliani because he initially had the highest name recognition, and prior (default) support.

I don't believe that Republican voters, prone to vote for a guy like Giuliani or Bush, care at all about the scandals that the "liberal" press dredges up. I mean, what, they care about what Tweety is barking about?

I don't, and I'm a liberal.

Posted by: luci on December 11, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

"I admit to watching the GOP candidates' struggles with a horrified fascination. How could it be that any of these fools, thugs, bigots and certifiably insane people could get the nomination? And yet one of them has to."

Two words: Brokered convention. That could easily result in the Republicans nominating a foolish, thugish, bigoted lunatic who isn't currently running.

Posted by: R Johnston on December 11, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

I left that out, R Johnston, because I think it's so unlikely as to be what-are-you-libs-smoking material. But hell, who knows at this point?

Posted by: shortstop on December 11, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Though I agree Guiliani is by far the likeliest potential world/democracy ender in the bunch and so I'm with Kevin in being relieved, I'm actually alarmed about Huckabee in terms of being a difficult candidate to beat. The man can be enormously likeable. (This coming from a guy who's usually pretty immune to the putative charms of Republican pols.) I was also concerned about his playing the populist card, though he seems to have canned that to win the primary. And then there's the matter of having his own Willie Horton scandal. But still.

Posted by: Bob on December 11, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

My guess is that the arc of Huckabee's popularity
will fallow a similar pattern as Rudy's- that is
as people suddenly learn about him it will plummet.

The earth is 6000 years old? He has a 'Willy Horton' problem
on steroids?

So It might be Romney, as he will be the least
damaged by the end of the primaries, unless
the cult-like aspect of the Mormons becomes
known.

Somebody HAS to win Somehow.

Could be entertaining.

As for the general election, a big issue is
who the CorpControlled MSM decide they want
to win. They might decide that they can live
with Romney, in which case they will turn their
Smear Machine against the Dems. I think they
are trying to decide themselves, if they can
stomache a Dem or not.

Posted by: rms on December 11, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK
What's up with the "strong support" dropping 40 percent in a month? how "strong" could it have been?

The nature of polling is such that what is usually labelled "strong support" is only strong in the sense of "intense" not in the sense of "durable". The two kinds of strength may coincide to a certain degree, but there is no necessary connection between them.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 11, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the thing that strikes me about the poll is how it shows a clear and steady 2-1 lead for Hillary over Obama.

Any number of state polls seem to show them converging, or even having Obama slightly ahead. While I know that there's a difference between national polls and state polls, it's hard to see how these ABC poll results are really consistent with the state polls -- at bare minimum, you'd expect to see a downward trend in Hillary's national poll results, and there's not even a hint of that.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 11, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

This is a bit off-thread, but I don't know where else to put it:

The current (January 2008) issue of Vanity Fair -- in its "Editor's Letter" -- Gordon Carter recounts what former British Foreign Secretary Lord Owen reports in his book, "The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair, and the Intoxication of Power." Carter says that, according to Owen, Bush's blood "contained significant amounts of alcohol" when analyzed at Johns Hopkins following the 2002 incident when Bush "choked on a pretzel" while watching a football game on TV.

The notion that Bush has slipped back into active alcoholism is a familiar blog subject, mainly because the President often (usually) acts that way. But this is the first time I've seen such an allegation in print at any level above National Enquirer.

Interesting. Certainly fits with his behavior.


Posted by: wileycat on December 11, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

The worst of the lot indeed. I don't care how moderate he may be on social issues; on a purely personal level, I have never encountered a presidential candidate more dislikeable than Rudy. Not Bush. Not Nixon. OK, maybe Pat Robertson, but he could plead insanity. I'm half-rooting for him in the primaries so we can draw an easy target in the general, but on the other hand, I'd like to go back to having elections in which I don't feel as if the world will end if my side loses.

Posted by: Novemberist on December 11, 2007 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Wait until NBC finds out that HRC still leads and leads big. Two whole months wasted trashing her, what will they do now?

Oh, right, of course, they'll just keep saying it.

Posted by: TJM on December 11, 2007 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

The poll that should be of the most interest is the CNN poll just released that shows Edwards the strongest Dem in matchups against all Republicans.

Posted by: Chrissy on December 11, 2007 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy - Isn't Edwards taking matching funds? How competitive can he be in the general when he's forced to spend the summer running on fumes?

Posted by: Novemberist on December 11, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think much of Obama's "surging" is a mirage, the result of comparing different polls with different polling methodology to deduce a change in the trendline (always a no-no). I'm still expecting Hillary to tie it up fairly quickly.

My early guess was that Romney would eventually emerge as the default candidate. I still think this is the most likely result, though I could also see a scenario where the GOP money stands aside and lets the theocrats have Huckabee, so that he can be crushed in the general and his supporters discredited.

Giuliani's clown show was never likely to make it to the nomination, in my estimation. OTOH if I'm wrong and Giuliani wins the general as well as the nomination, I'll seriously consider emigrating.

Posted by: jimBOB on December 11, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Novemberist, if Edwards wins the nomination there will be no shortage of money even if it does not come directly into and out of the Edwards campaign.

Posted by: Chrissy on December 11, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

I think much of Obama's "surging" is a mirage, the result of comparing different polls with different polling methodology to deduce a change in the trendline (always a no-no).

I suppose that's possible, but there do seem to be a number of polls that show Clinton and Obama with essentially indistinguishable numbers.

What I don't get is the disconnect between this national poll and all the latest state polls. I know that the usual story is that people aren't paying real attention outside of the very first primary states. But if that were true, why would Rudy's and Huckabee's national numbers have changed so dramatically? Surely on the Democratic side there's at least as much interest nationally as on the Republican side.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 11, 2007 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

I believe Romney is the most likely candidate of the Republicans because:
A.) He will say and do anything to close the deal.
B.) His shtick worked well enough to get him elected in a very liberal (and I had hoped too savvy to fall for it) state.
C.) No sexual peccadillos.
D.) Not Hillary
E.) He's the candidate of Big Business and the hyper rich. (see G.W. Bush)
F.) See E.) repeat

Posted by: GVC on December 11, 2007 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

If Giuliani's support continues to wane, it may be American's do have a limited tolerance to sleaze.

Posted by: Brojo on December 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

If one looks at the graph of the prediction market in Iowa, there too Giuliani falls as Huckabee rises(and McCain, from single digits to double, but only barely). But the candidate who comes closest to cratering is Romney--about a 30% drop.

Posted by: Iowabusinessman on December 12, 2007 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Weird - Clinton vastly leading Obama and Edwards in "understands problems".

Clinton has been creating this image of herself for quite a long time. No other candidate has written the kind of books about family problems like she has. It goes back to her health care days during the Bill admin. She has had a lot of TV time prior to becoming a senator discussing 'problems.' Her marital tribulations also give her authenticity for understanding others' problems. I think that familiarity is what gives her the greatest chance of winning both the nomination and election.

Posted by: Brojo on December 12, 2007 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

Absolutely. Familiarity. Oh, yeah. And $40 million.

Posted by: Patricia on December 12, 2007 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with the posters who believe Romney will be the GOP nominee. I think it was the Washington Monthly that reported, about a year ago, that Jeb Bush had put his staff and donors at Romney's disposal, and that meant to me that R would likely prevail if McCain faltered, as he has done. If the Dems reject Hilary, I predict that Romney will have an excellent chance of winning the Presidency (or getting so close that the Supremes can steal it for him). That's because he's physically attractive, apparently very competent, and despite current pandering to the crazies who vote in GOP primaries, he's not scarily fanatical. He is by far the most dangerous of the Republican candidates, apart from McCain. I like both Obama and Edwards as well as Hilary, but she's the only Dem candidate who can survive the scurrilous Republican campaign tactics that will be coming.
On the other hand, I don't think anyone who wins this election and has to deal with Iraq and global warming will last more than one term.

Posted by: keith on December 12, 2007 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

pat,

Huckabee may be surging now, but when people see this: Game over.

http://syndication.nationaljournal.com/images/HuckXmascard.pdf

Hey - it is true what they say - vertical stripes are slimming! Dang!

Posted by: Tripp on December 12, 2007 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah. The dog is the only one who comes off well in that picture.

Posted by: Pat on December 12, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Pat, that's hilarious.

And I don't want to brag about my 98 percent accurate gaydar, but about that son in the middle...well, Huck better get his "hate the sin, love the son" speech ready pronto.

Posted by: shortstop on December 12, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Giuliani isn't just the worst of the lot; there's not even a close second. I'd vote for the fucking devil to keep him out of office.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on December 12, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK
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