Giuliani’s Rather Late Epiphany

Via the Political Wire in regards to his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination:

“I didn’t build a good enough campaign in any one state to win a primary. I had a great national campaign, a terrible primary campaign. And it should be reversed. You’ve got to win primaries in order to get nominated."

This is, of course, the case.  Indeed, it has been the case for, well, decades.  I am constantly amazed how ostensibly smart people fail to recognize and grasp basic elements of the way our political system works.  How is it possible to be a major politico and not understand the fundamental truth that the road to either party’s nomination starts in Iowa and is a step-by-step process?  And yet, here we have an admission that the basics were wholly misunderstood.

It reminds me of the major error made by the Clinton campaign in 2008 when they went into the California primary thinking that the delegate allocation was done by winner-take-all rather than via a proportional process (see here).

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Science & Technology, , ,
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. James Joyner says:

    The Clinton campaign made related errors throughout. They “won” Texas yet got fewer delegates than Obama, because his team understood the arcane rules and hers didn’t bother.

  2. Kylopod says:

    I’d add a caveat to the Clinton/Giuliani comparison. Mark Penn was supposedly ignorant of the fact that Cali–and most other states that have Democratic primaries–are not winner take all. Penn denies this is the case, and although I normally would not be inclined to trust his word, I just have a have a hard time believing anyone could make such an error, and that no one in the Clinton campaign figured this out before the deadline. Certainly, the Clinton campaign failed to anticipate the advantage Obama could get from slowly building up delegates in small states.

    Giuliani wasn’t guilty of a factual error: he was simply trying to do something that had never been done before. (It’s kind of like the exchange from The Princess Bride–“We’ll never survive!” “Nonsense, you’re only saying that because no one ever has.”) And given that he was already trying to do something that seemed unlikely–win the nomination of a party that was way to the right of him–I sort of saw the logic behind his focusing on Florida and ignoring states with GOPs that were less friendly to moderates. Frankly, I never believed he had much of a chance to begin with. If not ignoring Iowa and NH would have kept him in the race longer, that doesn’t mean he would have come close to capturing the nomination. And I’m not sure he gets that now.