- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

While Rudy Giuliani continues to lead the national polls for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney leads in the crucial early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, which will hold the nation’s first caucus and primary, respectively, in January. Meanwhile, John McCain, who continues to be hobbled by his support for a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, seems to be sliding everywhere, especially in Iowa. As for Fred Thompson, who officially joined the race only recently, he has registered impressive polling numbers nationally and in Iowa, although he hasn’t caught fire in New Hampshire.

Averaging the results of five recent national polls, RealClearPolitics reported that Mr. Giuliani enjoys an 8.4-percentage-point lead over Mr. Thompson (29.6 percent to 21.2 percent). Mr. McCain came in third nationally (13 percent), and Mr. Romney was in fourth place (11 percent). Mr. Giuliani achieved his biggest lead (17 points) in the ABC News/Washington Post poll, which showed that Republican voters preferred Mr. Giuliani by significant margins on six issues: terrorism (18-point margin over the second-most-preferred candidate); social issues (23-point margin); Iraq war (six-point margin); economy (16-point margin); immigration (13-point margin); and health care (15-point margin).

According to the polling report, Mr. Giuliani’s support was “much weaker among evangelical white Protestants — a reflection of his difficulties in the Republican base.” Evangelicals account for 30 percent of “leaned Republicans.” Nevertheless, it is interesting, considering Mr. Giuliani’s pro-choice position, anti-gun views, strong support for homosexual rights and three marriages, that he achieved his biggest preference margin (23 points, 41 percent to 18 percent) in the “social issues” category.

In Iowa, according to an average of five recent polls calculated by RealClearPolitics, Mr. Romney, who has spent heavily on TV ads in the state, has built up a 10.2-percentage-point lead over Mr. Giuliani (25.8 percent vs. 15.6 percent). Mr. Thompson is a close third at 15.2 percent. Mr. McCain is mired in single digits in Iowa, trailing former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who finished a strong second in Iowa’s August straw poll, which was boycotted by Messrs. Giuliani and McCain. Mr. Giuliani’s social issues anomaly that was detected nationally is not playing out the same way in Iowa, indicating that once Republican voters learn more about his positions, they will move away from him. In the Des Moines Register’s recent poll of likely Republican caucus participants, Mr. Giuliani finished slightly below Mr. Huckabee with 11 percent, having lost 6 points since the newspaper’s May poll. “Among likely caucus participants whose first choice was someone other than the former New York mayor,” the paper reported, “55 percent say his abortion stance is a major factor in not backing him.”

According to averages from five recent polls calculated by RealClearPolitics, Mr. Giuliani trails Mr. Romney by less than 4 points (25.2 percent to 21.4 percent) in New Hampshire, where Mr. Thompson has registered the support of only 11 percent of potential voters in the Republican primary. Mr. McCain was in third place with 16.6 percent. However, independents, who gave a strong majority of their support to Mr. McCain in the 2000 Republican primary, enabling him to administer the 49-30 “thumping” over George W. Bush, will likely make a strong showing in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary in January.



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