McCain Supporters vs. Giuliani Supporters

Gerry Daly points to an interesting new RT Strategies/Cook Political Report poll showing that, despite Rudi Giuliani being inarguably less conservative than John McCain on the key social issues, the former is more popular among likely Republican voters.

Key figures from the crosstabs [PDF] extracted below.

Personal likeability on a scale of 1-100 (registered voters):

George W. Bush 43.6
John Edwards 49.1
Hillary Clinton 43.9
John McCain 54.8
Rudy Giuliani 59.4
John Kerry 44.9

Granting a margin of error of 4% and other issues* with the poll (three day spread, no likely voter screen applied, etc.), it’s interesting that Giuliani is the most popular of the frequently mentioned 2008 hopefuls, absolutely trouncing Hillary Clinton. McCain isn’t fair behind, either, and is within the margin of error.

Of those registered voters identifying or leaning Republican, here are there first and second choice candidates for 2008:

Poll 2008 GOP Hopefuls

Giuliani has a surprisingly strong lead over McCain here and no one else is even in the game at this point. Indeed, “Not sure” is the third choice candidate, easily beating out Newt Gingrich.

RedState’s RudyBlogger points to some other differences:

  • Giuliani voters approve of Bush’s job performance 75-17%, right in line with all Republicans and Republican leaners. McCain voters are fundamentally out of step with the Republican Party, with a tepid 59-28% approval margin.
  • Giuliani voters see the country moving in the right direction by 63-30%. Republicans + leaners say right direction 59-34%. For McCain voters, the right direction/wrong track number is a negative 44-50%.
  • Giuliani voters are more positive towards President Bush personally. 28% of them give the President a thermometer ranking of 90 or above, vs. 20% for McCain supporters.
  • And this:

  • 15% of McCain supporters plan to vote Democrat in this fall’s midterm elections, compared to 2% of Giuliani supporters.
  • 82% of Giuliani supporters consider themselves Republicans. Just 69% of McCain supporters consider themselves Republicans
  • I’ve long had my doubts as to whether Giuliani or McCain could win the nomination, given the former’s liberal position on the social issues and the latter’s alienation of the base despite a strong conservative voting record. Still, as I’ve argued before, it may well be that his post-9/11 leadership has innoculated Giuliani from the “too liberal” charge. It’ll apparently take more than a trip to Liberty University to rehabilitate McCain.

    *Disclosure: My wife is VP at another polling firm.

    FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Blogosphere, Public Opinion Polls, , , , , , , , , ,
    James Joyner
    About James Joyner
    James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


    1. The other part is when they try to highlight Rudy’s “negatives” to the republicans.

      “Some people say he really cleaned up New York City as Mayor and made it a safer place, and then he
      showed real courage as a leader after the attack on the World Trade Center.
      Other people say that his views on some issues—because he is pro-choice on abortion, and supports gun
      control and gay rights—makes it hard for them to support him for President”

      Results: 56% republicans think Rudy should be nominated (up 6 points from 6 months ago) and 38% think he should not (down 5 points from 6 months ago).

      The more Rudy’s negatives get talked about, the less punch they have. They get “factored in” by the voters. Those who don’t want Rudy would have been better off to ignore the issue now and “discover it” just before the primary.

      I would also like to see the cook report do a similar “push question” on McCain to see is level of support is similar situation.

      While I may not agree with Rudy on a several issues, I can still respect him. I can also think of the fun in an election where the democrats have to seriously play defense in New York and New Jersey.

    2. Anderson says:

      It’s not that Giuliani is “too liberal” for most Republicans. He’s not.

      He’s just too liberal for the pro-life/gay-bashing part of the base.

      Plus, both Giuliani and McCain are bad about shooting their mouths off & hitting themselves in the foot (anatomically improbable tho that may seem).

    3. Go Newt!!!
      Get that 10% up to 60.
      I would vote for Newt right now.
      I would consider Giuliani, if Newt not available.
      I would not vote for John McCain.

    4. Jay says:

      Recycling: Not just for paper anymore.

      I left the following comment on a related post over at Dean’s World:

      Giuliani has the advantage of McCain being unmittigatedly, power-trippingly evil. I can’t imagine voting for McCain over any likely opponent. I would rather have Hillary for President than McCain, no contest.

      And Romney wants to be McCain when he grows up.

    5. Mark says:

      I would rather have Hillary for President than McCain, no contest.

      Speak for yourself, Jay, but I am not going THAT far in opposing McCain!

    6. Fersboo says:

      It’s not that Giuliani is “too liberal” for most Republicans. He’s not.

      He’s just too liberal for the pro-life/gay-bashing part of the base.

      I’m a pro-life/’no-special-rights-for-gays’ and Rudy is my 1st and 2nd choice.

      ……are bad about shooting their mouths off & hitting themselves in the foot (anatomically improbable tho that may seem).

      That could be said for 99.9% of all politicians.

    7. Wayne says:

      I would prefer someone for President who I disagree with a little more on some issues but who is firm in his belief and wont change as wind blow than someone who is just the opposite. I am still hoping for a strong Governor to step up.

    8. Michael says:

      I think you missed the point that has been made in several posts lately. “Conservative” and “Liberal” don’t mean what they used to. By the old definition, Giuliani is Liberal and McCain is Conservative, as you said. However, with the new definition of “Conservative” being “Agrees with Bush” and “Liberal” being “Doesn’t agree with Bush”, we now have McCain is the Liberal, and Giuliani as the Conservative. Just check out RudyBlogger’s use of the “Bush-support-o-meter” to explain Giuliani’s conservative appeal.

      Plus you have years of GOP pundits and talking heads calling McCain a RINO, while getting all misty-eyed about Giuliani standing on the WTC rubble with Bush. Given all that, I don’t see why these results would surprise you.

      I’d like to end by saying that Hillary is not yet the Democratic nominee, and in fact many many Democrats dislike her and her policies. You’d better hope your party has a contingency plan to fight a stronger, more unifying candidate from the left.