Giuliani in 2012?

Might Rudy do better in 2012 than he did in 2008?

So speculates Christian Heinze at The HillIs Rudy Giuliani a 2012 dark horse?

As a 2008 primary front-runner, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tanked. But as a 2012 dark horse, he could do surprisingly well.

I find this to be a highly dubious proposition.  Heinze’s argument is that the GOP is less focused on social conservatism these day, therefore Giuliani’s fiscal conservatism, could propel him forward.  I have some sincere doubts.

First, while it is true that social conservative issues have receded a bit from center stage within GOP politics of late, it cannot be said that they have utterly disappeared (DADT, anyone?  Gay marriage?  Abortion is hardly a forgotten issue).   And one suspects that they will be more central in the 2012 presidential primaries than they were in the 2010 congressional elections.

Second, if we look back at 2008, the best Giuliani did was in Florida, where he came in 3rd with 15% of the vote.  Outside of that he did not bust into double-digits.  In Iowa he came in 6th with 4% and in New Hampshire also 4th with 8%.

Meanwhile, two of his potential opponents (Huckabee and Romney) did considerably better in IA and Romney well outpaced him in NH.  Huckabee won Iowa with 35% and Romney came in second with 25%.  In NH, Romney came in second with 32% although Huckabee only won 11%.  They both had respectable showings overall.

In any event, Romney and Huckabee have more to build off of than Giuliani.  And while, yes, a lot can change in four years, I am not at all certain that anything has changed that would suggest Giuliani is likely to make a 2012 showing be especially better than that of 2008.  Giuliani has two basic claims to fame:  the general success of his tenure at mayor of NYC and his specific behavior on 9/11.  These are both fairly ancient events in terms of politics.  Remarkable as it may sound, 9/11 itself will be over a decade old by the time the 2012 nomination process officially starts.  Giuliani’s heyday as mayor is even older than that.

Third, there is the question of exactly where Giuliani’s constituency in the GOP selectorate is supposed to be.  This was his problem in 2008 and it will be moreso in 2012.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Rudy spent $ 50 million, lasted through one month of primaries, and won one delegate.

    Since then, the GOP has moved further to the right.

    If he runs again, he may double his own record. 2 delegates for $ 100 million

  2. Indeed.

  3. Maggie Mama says:

    Rudi has too much baggage …… I don’t think that either of his kids is talking to him ….. and he has an ex-wife who would love to see him bleed big time.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Rudy’s best shot was 2008 and he blew it. I do think, however, that DADT will be moot by 2012 — if it isn’t already — and that we’re just about there for gay marriage and abortion. The last remains a banal talking point but, really, it’s settled law at this point.

  5. Agreed in re: Rudy in 2008.

    In re: DADT, I agree that it will be moot as policy by 2012. I am not sure that it will be moot rhetorically in some quarters of the GOP electorate.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    I lived in NY state during 9/11 and initially thought highly of Giuliani, but over time my opinion of him sunk to the lowest level. A lot of NYC firefighters and policemen lived in my town (we lost three firefighters, including my daughter’s soccer coach, in the blaze) and to a one, they despised him. They thought he was a big phony and worse, had put their lives in jeopardy in order to make himself look good on the screen. He surrounded himself with opportunists and toadies, and greedy, dishonest and stupid ones at that. For god’s sake, he tried to force Bernie Kerik in as head of Homeland Security! Could you imagine what posting a two bit crook like that would have done to the credibility of theorganization? He took all credit for getting tough in NYC and lowering the crime rate, and when newspapers insisted on pointing out that the programs he was taking credit for had started with the police commissioner’s appointment two years before Rudy showed up, he fired him. I could go on and on in this vein, but suffice it to say his Romney-esque pandering to the far right base sewed up my distaste for the guy. A weeks worth of opposition research on this clown would ensure a Democratic victory no matter when he ran.

  7. I think that Kerik, et al. is part of the “baggage” that Maggie Mama was referring to.

  8. anjin-san says:

    He was not humiliated enough in ’08? Perhaps not, his ego may well bring him back for more.

  9. Kylopod says:

    Not only have social issues not disappeared, I think their status as a litmus test for candidates is as strong as ever. Quick question: Can you name a single “Tea Party” candidate from the 2010 midterms who was openly pro-choice? (No, Scott Brown doesn’t count.)

  10. No one I know in political circles took Giuliani politically seriously in 2008 and they won’t in 2012. If the money is there some people will get on board which could lead to substantial coverage (ala 2008), but he is a non-starter and any discussion otherwise is a waste of time. A much better discussion would be as to whether Romney is in the same boat?