Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 21, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

RUDY'S FALL....As a followup to the news that Rudy's poll numbers are tanking even in his home state of New York, here's a question: what happened? Was it really the Shag Fund story that killed him? It's a little hard to believe that of all things, that was the one that killed him, but his collapse in the polls sure does match up with the initial release of the story. It looks like Judi was his Achilles heel after all.

Equally interesting is that Huckabee's rise in the poll is practically a mirror image of Rudy's fall. Could it be that the Shag Fund was the straw that broke the evangelical back? When the story broke, did all the evangelicals who were supporting Rudy despite his social liberalism finally decide that enough was enough and go scurrying in Huckabee's direction? It sure seems that way.

Kevin Drum 9:47 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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That was it. Sleaze everybody can understand.

Posted by: redterror on January 21, 2008 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like Huckabee got the first influx of Giuliani voters, then McCain got the second influx earlier this month.

Posted by: stm177 on January 21, 2008 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Tempest in a teapot. Rudy is just slimy. Misinformed Bible-beaters take to a hick with bad teeth like Huckabee more readily than a swarmy, arrogant Italian with a bad combover like Giuliani. Shag fund had little or nothing to do with it. Case closed.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 21, 2008 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

No. They still don't know the shag fund story. Think about who you're writing about. They believe in alternate truths, and something presented by the mainstream media that confounds the received wisdom is immediately dismissed within the first couple words. They don't even hear the end of the sentence. But, Giuliani was suspect from the beginning because his only strength to them is his authoritarian demeanor. When they started to see that the others could manage that role reasonably well, and most importantly, when obscure politician Huckabee became known to them and seemed like a nice enough guy they felt comfortable abandoning hizzoner.

Ok, I don't really know, your guess is very reasonable, but I don't think mine is such a bad alternative.

Posted by: dennisS on January 21, 2008 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

The shag fund thing made him look beatable, and his seeming ivincibility in a general was what gave him his big appeal to the secular wingnuts. Huckabee probably would have risen anyway, because there was nobody out there appealing to that voter bloc, and Huckabee isn't a terrible politician, for what he is. Then the early states rolled around, and Giuliani was out of sight, out of mind, while the media furiously worked away on McCain, who was the real beneficiary of Giuliani's terrible campaign.

I'm still unclear on why they decided to throw away the early states, when they were in a position to put the whole thing away. Did they figure Romney would crush McCain, and they could then beat Romney head to head? It's the only thing I can think of, but I don't get why they ran a finesse campaign, when the polls and the money were going their way. Really a poor, poor campaign, although since I think Giuliani was by far the most dangerous Republican in a general election, it isn't breaking my heart.

Posted by: Martin Gale on January 21, 2008 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, as long as we're correlating things on the Real Clear Politics polling charts, take a look at the Democratic national graph.

When Hillary dips after Iowa, Edwards goes up about the same amount. And when she goes back up, he goes back down. Obama's rise happens at the same time, but there's not the same degree of correlation.

Circumstantial evidence supporting the theory (I heard it first on Matt Yglesias, but it's been circulating widely) that Edwards is cutting more into HRCs support than into BOs.

Posted by: Ted on January 21, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone knew from the beginning that Rudy woulkd eventually show his unbearable side. Whether by gaffe or scandal, and he was always equally capable of either, he just couldn't hide the inner reptile forever. And the scandals come from the same arrogance as the nasty persona---that he is the Mayor and as such, can do whatever he wants...which truly makes him Bush's practical if not ideological successor.

Posted by: jprichva on January 21, 2008 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

At first glance, I read that graph as saying Ron Paul had leaped to 30% recently.

Good times.

Posted by: Zephyrus on January 21, 2008 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

I think what happened is that Giuliani polled well initially due to his name recognition, but then he proceeded to run one of the worst campaigns in history, which ran his poll numbers into the ground.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on January 21, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone is rubbishing Giuliani's campaign now, but consider what it has to work with. When in the past would a thrice-married former Mayor of New York City with a New York City record on social issues have been considered a possible Republican Presidential nominee?

The tremendously positive public image Giuliani took away from 9/11 fooled a lot of people, including him, that his personal history and public record wouldn't make a Presidential candidacy impossible. I suppose it is possible that, had President Bush decided for some reason not to run for reelection in 2004, a Giuliani candidacy might have worked then. But 9/11 was a while ago, and terrorism isn't the only thing Republican primary voters care about any more.

If it hadn't been the "shag fund" story, it would have been something else. Some aspects of Giuliani's campaign strategy can be criticized, but his real problem was that he was never a viable GOP Presidential candidate.

Posted by: Zathras on January 21, 2008 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

I have no doubt it was the Shag Fund, and most hilarious, it turns out that the Shag Fund wasn't even the reason behind 95%+ of the security costs expensed to obscure agencies. Did anyone else see this? Something like $5k out of several hundred thousand dollars in expenses were actually used on trips to Martha's Vineyard, or Nantucket, or wherever it was that Judi! summered.

I mean, I'm not complaining -- couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. I just think it's funny that the scandal that sank him was the one that wasn't.

Posted by: Carl on January 22, 2008 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

P.S. 9/11 9/11 9/11. 9/11. When history (9/11) hesitated, he 9/11 9/11 didn't 9/11. 9/11.

Posted by: Carl on January 22, 2008 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Yep, shag fund. When I heard that Rudi had the NYPD walking his girlfriend's dog, I knew he was going down right then. Because that's sleaze anyone can understand.

Posted by: Emma Anne on January 22, 2008 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

I would imagine it has much to do with Giuliani's lack of campaign. What I see, looking at the graph, is that when the media started to focus on actual primaries and caucuses (i.e., the things Rudy's ignoring), his support dropped. At the same time, support for candidates actually contesting elections rose. Now that the media is covering who's doing what in IA/NH/SC/etc, Giuliani is out of sight, out of mind. Somebody at work asked me the other day if he's still in the race.

I doubt very many people know enough about Giuliani other than the 9/11 stuff for one story to have such a major impact.

Posted by: kevinbelt on January 22, 2008 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

A closer look at the graph (hey guys there's only 6 lines) shows Thompson's line dipping almost parallel to Rudy's, while McCain's support grows 20 points from the point marked. The correlation, from an issues standpoint, would point to Huckabee grabbing values voters from Thomspon and Romney (who also took a quick dip at this point), while McCain lived off Rudy's tough on defense voting block. Further evidence of this would be that Huckabee's two recent dips have been marked by Thompson and Romney gains, while McCain continued to grow... Examining exit polls and recent Pew research shows Huck's voting block is almost entirely evangelical, a group that didn't exactly jump off the Rudy to bangwagon to find him.

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2008 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Wah hoppind to Rudy? That's easy. The MSM turned on him. By that I mean they stopped blowing kisses up his ass (see McCain). That and the War on Terrehr got benched by the War on the US economy. The tune changed and Rudy One Note seemed a bit flat.

Posted by: Keith G on January 22, 2008 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Giuliani's "Knights who say '9/11'" shtick didn't help him any. Really, I think even for wingnuts he went a little overboard on that. Plus he's a cross-dressing, pro-abortion, anti-gun New Yorker. You really think anyone like that could win the nomination in the religious cult that is today's GOP? Not even if he bit Bin Laden's head off on live TV...

Posted by: jim on January 22, 2008 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

I find Thompson's numbers to be more fascinating. Rudy's problems aren't all that surprising given his views on abortion and gun control, as well as his sleazy personal life. Thompson, however, seemed to embody the type of conservative that could appeal to all sides, and there was such a to do when he entered the race. I guess lethargy isn't a good thing for a presidential candidate.

Posted by: Jim on January 22, 2008 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

It looks to me that Guilani's supporters spread out, mostly going to McCain. Which makes since, since policy/culture-wise, they're the same candidate. Otherwise I am totally with Zathras.

I still can't figure out why anybody thinks Guilani would be dangerous to the D's. I can see why he'd be dangerous IN OFFICE, cuz he's prototype candidate for the Fascist Party (Capital F intended). Outside of the neo-cons and whatnot, tho, what the hell is his constitutency? For that matter how is his constitutency different from Bloomberg's? He's got nothing for working class voters of any stripe, he's got nothing for middle-class voters of almost any stripe. All he's really got are social liberals who like killing Arabs and have never been in a war. And they're going to be voting for Clinton.


Posted by: max on January 22, 2008 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the NIE. Rudy was planning to run against the crazy Ayatollahs who were getting ready to nuke us all. It took Iran out of the headlines, and took away his major selling point.

Posted by: MikeN on January 22, 2008 at 7:25 AM | PERMALINK

I'm chagrined. Here I went and predicted, all over the inter-tubes, that Rudy's downfall would come when someone asked him about his National Ferret Ban policy. Oh well.

There was never any way that "heartland" GOPers would support a twice-divorced eye-talian from Neew Yawk Sitty. There's a visceral dislike there; no matter how much the NYer panders, the GOPer always suspect that their being patronized, belittled, mocked for their unsophistication.

(which, mostly, they should be)

We'll just have to see how Hillary handles that, in the coming primaries. And I think Romney has a similar, perhaps worse problem. Bubba don't like no yankees, no sirree.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on January 22, 2008 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Note also that McCain started up just after the party noticed Huckabee's ascent.

Posted by: anandine on January 22, 2008 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

What happened last August that gave Romney a bump at McCain's and Thompson's expense? And why did it vanish so quickly?

Judging by that yellow line, Mittster likes it slow & steady.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 22, 2008 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Rudy's a joke...good riddance. But why is Thompson staying in the race?

Posted by: drosz on January 22, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Hell, Rudy, fallen from grace, no one is with thee. Wretched art thou among candidates, and wretched is the fruit of thy mayoralty, fear and bluster.

Posted by: shortstop on January 22, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think it's the scandals. I think Rudy suffers from exposure. He simply appears to be as nutty as a fruitcake to more and more people.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 22, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

The shag scandal started the fall. It brought him back to the rest of the pack, whereby he needed to do well in a caucus or primary to remain competitive. The big state strategy had no chance of working after the shag scandal. Has anybody actually looked at Rudy's organization to see whether it is funding ground troops in any state other than FL maybe? Could this all have been a scam to get donations to further Rudy's lifestyle (staying at Four Seasons while campaigning, etc.) and pay high priced consultants to buy TV ads?

Posted by: John Dillinger on January 22, 2008 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

But why is Thompson staying in the race?

To peel votes off Huckabee and ensure that a "traditional" Republican candidate gets the nomination.

Posted by: shortstop on January 22, 2008 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

How about more people are finding out that he is an ADULTERER...I think that should be shouted from the rooftops by these santimonious rightwingnuts...they minced no words when blasting Clinton (and continue to do so)...this weasel actually moved on to a THIRD WIFE but guess that doesn't bother the hypocrites in the REPUG PARTY...

Posted by: Dancer on January 22, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Thompson sort of looks like he's mirroring the stock market. Let's keep him in the race just in case.

Posted by: B on January 22, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

I think his decline can be explained by one of the same things that makes Obama so appealing. I think Americans, both Democrat and Republican, are a lot more aware of how politicians use fear to try to lead them by the nose after being exposed to it the current fear-mongering administration for so many years. And frankly, I think most people are sick of it.
When Obama talks about hope, he is at the same time speaking against the fear politics.

When Giuliani speaks about 9/11, he is saying, be afraid, vote for me, I'll protect you.

Which message is more appealing to you?

Posted by: Osiris on January 22, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

You may be right about Rudy's fall, but not Huckabee's ascension. Mid-late November was when Huckabee began running the Chuck Norris TV ads and let's face it, that's all he ever had going for him.

Posted by: Bryguy on January 22, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

First of all, there are rumors Thompson isn't staying in the race. Marc Ambinder reported that he might drop out today, even. But the reason he stays, IMO, is for McCain's benefit. It's well known that the two of them are friends, and most people expect Thompson to endorse McCain when the former drops out. It's unlikely, though, that Thompson's voters will also switch to McCain. The social conservatives will go to Huckabee, and Romney will draw some of them looking for the next Reagan. So Thompson's exit ends up hurting the person it's supposed to help. I wouldn't be surprised if he sticks around a while longer, and then gets the VP nomination on a McCain ticket.

Posted by: kevinbelt on January 22, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

if you want to see a parallel to how 9/11 has lost some power, go see 'cloverfield' in a full theater. I don't think I am giving anything away when I say that there is some eerily reminescent imagery and even some jokes about conspiracy theories, and the audience I was with didn't flinch at it.

Goodbye Rudy, hope you saved a lot of money this past decade, me thinks your cash cow luster is fading

Posted by: northzax on January 22, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

if you want to see a parallel to how 9/11 has lost some power, go see 'cloverfield' in a full theater. I don't think I am giving anything away when I say that there is some eerily reminescent imagery and even some jokes about conspiracy theories, and the audience I was with didn't flinch at it.

Goodbye Rudy, hope you saved a lot of money this past decade, me thinks your cash cow luster is fading

Posted by: northzax on January 22, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK
be afraid, vote for me, I'll protect you. Osiris at 10:28 AM
Do you remember 2004? Toughness resonates with the electorate.

Tweety is crying . He is losing one of his manly men, while his other man crush, Thompson who smelled so good, is a bust. That leaves him with McCain's senescent wrinkled arse to pimp.

Posted by: Mike on January 22, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Only the rightwing media had him up we on the left knew there was nothing to Rudy it just took Hannity and Mathews a little longer to figure it out.I'm going to miss 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11Rudy.

Posted by: john john on January 22, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Could it simply be that he sucks?

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on January 22, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's just my monitor, but the way this chart looks on my screen, Edwin Tufte would want somebody's ass.

Two candidates have lines that are maroon, two have lines that are dark gray, and two have lines that are invisible because they are the same color as the background.

I cannot get one bit of useful information from this chart.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 22, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Only Democrats do better in polls after cheating on their wives and having to spend tax dollars to provide security for concubines.

Posted by: PaulKirk on January 22, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Rudy's not done till the fat Clinton sings.

Posted by: foncool on January 22, 2008 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think most of the theories here are overthought.

Rudy's rise and fall can be explained quite simply: Republicans have to nominate someone.

Clearly none of the candidates has, or has ever had, anything resembling a frontrunner's base of voters. So each of the five took turns being the odds-on, column-subject, Hillary-vs, media darling favorite (except Thompson who had the voters but ran a poor, late campaign that didn't inspire any confidence in his ability as a politician).

Giuliani had his turn like everyone else; the only thing that distinguishes him at all is that his electoral strategy was worse than anyone's. Heck, even Thompson tried for Iowa.

Posted by: hitnrun on January 22, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

What's worse, Giuliani's providing protection to his wife to be or McCain sleeping with anyone who could walk, while his first wife was recovering from a serious car accident? If McCain's the nominee, get ready for the press to have a change of heart. Instead of kissing his flip flopping, Al Gore loving, industry crushing, doctor regulating, pharmaceutical destroying, guantanamo closing, torture hating butt, they're going to bring back the truly sleazy Keating Five scandal (where McCain tried to influence regulators to protect his sugar daddy).

Posted by: walsh on January 22, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

It was the shag fund LIE- a gotcha story that turned out to be false- and the NY times buried the exoneration later on page 35. Rudy died by a thousand small paper cuts. How many people know now that the story was untrue? I'd say millions heard it secondhand, believed it, and never heard that it was disproved.

Posted by: Richard Gleaves on January 22, 2008 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Hello Thompson supporters! Governor Mitt Romney is Florida's natural conservative alternative.

*Governor Romney wants 100k more American troops and honor for veterans when they return home.

*Romney wants immediate personal tax cuts and fast tracked business tax incentives.

*Romney wants to protect America's borders, crackdown on employers and deport illegals.

*Romney is Pro-Life by virtue of conversion through conscience.

*Romney wants an America first approach to trade policy with Russia, China, Japan and Europe.

*Romney is right on the issues and right for America in 2008.

*Gov. Mitt Romney welcomes Thompson's conservative supporters in Florida.

Thompson and Romney share much more in common... including a sincere desire for your vote on Jan. 29. Vote: Willard Mitt Romney for President.

Posted by: Newzaroo on January 22, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Not easy to say...Thompson's numbers were declining at the same time, so was Ron Paul's, and both were without similar stories coming out about them. McCain's, Huckabee's, and Romney's gains had to come off somebody(s). I'm a Florida Indie who changed reg to GOP to vote for either Rudy or McCain...still undecided, but leaning his way.

Posted by: mike on January 22, 2008 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, we all are not sure that Rudy is done. If early voting occured as he says it did in Fla, that might add a point or two to have him squeeze out a victory there. If he does that, he wins NY, NJ. Conn.,Delaware, Missouri on Super Tues. His campaign strategy is probably the reason the media and other wings of the Party left him. Voters like bandwagon stuff and if, if he wins Fla. that might set up his campaign again till the Convention. After all, if he seems, seems electible again over the socialist pacifists across the aisle and if Mitt cannot put away old John, Rudy could benefit. I vote in Ca. and will wait till Fla. is over to finally cast one for Rudy or fall back and vote for Mitt. Many others will too. All this smug RINO talk will dissolve fast if voters see the next 16 years of leftists appointing jurists, ruining our national security and derailing capitalism by the two Empty Suits in the Dem race.

Posted by: Glenn Koons on January 23, 2008 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Attention Florida Voters; Thompson, Huckabee and Giuliani supporters... unite with a real winner, Mitt Romney!

Next Tuesday, Florida republicans must defeat John McCain to save the GOP. It's that simple.

Governor Mitt Romney has got the gravitas, the good looks and big money to go all the way to victory in November. Being the only real conservative also helps.

This is your call to duty. McCain cannot go on!

Romney in 08. We invite you to join Mitt's team, while there's still time.

Posted by: Newzaroo on January 23, 2008 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Mitt Romney will be a the kiss of death for the Republicans come November if he is the nominee. As a lifelong Republican I find nothing appealing in his candidacy. It will be hold the nose time come November.

Posted by: Richard Frei on January 23, 2008 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

For me it was the opposite of the Shag Fund story that turned me from a supporter to a political enemy. He sent a newsletter last June that said he would stop "sex tourism" by Americans in other countries. This clearly meant that he felt that the US president or Congress owns citizens and can punish them for sleeping with an adult in another country (with Julie Annie, prostitution would be legal in Nevada but illegal in France...as if he or Congress really have any jurisdication over what an American citizen does in France).

In other words, he could have his sexual fun, but he was going to control how others have it.

I am married by the way and do not advocate visiting prostitutes, but vegetarians who won't fight to the death for their right to eat meat, will soon have no rights at all.

Posted by: Jack Sanderson on January 23, 2008 at 4:18 AM | PERMALINK

I am also a lifelong Republican and I cannot stomach seeing Romney on the TV anymore. First of all, he is Mormon and we all know that America will not elect someone who wears magic underwear. He is the LEAST authentic candidate I can remember. His entire campaign is built on opinion polls and voter metrics. He talked about a "bailout" for Michigan while lying by telling them that the auto jobs would come back. Yeah, they will come back when American car companies stop producing garbage that gets 12 MPG. They are as out of touch as Romney. He is a paper candidate. Don't forget his "I love mandates" quote when talking about government subsidized health insurance. Or his "We have the toughest gun control laws in the nation and I will uphold them" quote from Mass. He is a joke.

Posted by: Arthur on January 23, 2008 at 4:54 AM | PERMALINK

The beautiful thing about McCain potentially getting the Republican nomination is that - despite McCain's unwavering support of the Iraq War, and his rigidly conservative voting record - it is the strongest message repudiating the Bush administration Republicans can send. McCain is still in the public mind defined I think more by his 2000 loss to the Bush/Rove smear machine than he is by his subsequent support for Bush policies or by his prior voting record.

The other beautiful thing is that despite his relative appeal to independent voters his age probably dooms his candidacy and helps to ensure a clean Democratic sweep in November.

Most beautiful of all: bye bye Giuliani.

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