Ramesh's points are worthy of consideration, but I'd say a few things in response. For one, I think it's problematic when pundits look at the electoral calculus that sent President Bush into office and act as if that's the only way a Republican can win. Yes, "moral values" voters played a large part in Bush's victories in 2000 and 2004, but don't forget that he won both elections by a whisker, and even lost the popular vote the first time around. The Republican Party is in a perilous situation long term if its presidential election strategy is contingent upon holding the same territory and writing off huge swaths of the country. Rudy Giuliani puts states in play that otherwise would not be (California, New Jersey, etc.), and therefore redraws the electoral map so Republicans can actually go on offense in the election rather then defending the same states that won them the last two elections. And this doesn't only have implications on the presidential race. If Republicans nominate someone at the top of the ticket who puts more states in play, who is better able to attract swing voters, it helps Republican congressional and senatorial candidates. Ramesh attempts to address this pro-Giuliani argument:
Of course, it is possible that Giuliani would more than make up for these losses by bringing in other voters. Maybe the map of the 2008 election would look different from that of the Bush elections, with such states as
and California in play for the Republicans for the first time in 20 years. So many of Giuliani’s supporters dream. Polls taken right now find him to be the Republicans’ strongest candidate. A New Jersey Today/Gallup poll has him beating Sen. Clinton by two points, while she beats McCain by three. (The Quinnipiac poll recently found similar results in USA .) Florida
But these polls are not terribly good at predicting election results. In Sept. 1999, a
Post/ABC poll found Gov. George W. Bush with a 19-point lead over Vice President Al Gore. Fourteen months later, Gore won more votes than Bush. One thing polls can’t capture is how the dynamics of a campaign change public opinion. Washington
So, his counterargument boils down to: polls can change. Of course they can. But I don't think that the Sept. 1999 Bush poll is an apt comparison to the current situation. Right now, the Republican brand name is severely damaged, coming off its worst election defeat in at least 15, arguably 30, years. The fact that Giuliani has even a slight edge over all the leading Democrats, and even leads in the now solidly blue state of
And for those who haven't seen it yet, I strongly encourage Rudy skeptics to watch his appearance on Larry King Live last night, particularly his composure as he responds to questions on the Iraq War–the most difficult issue for Republican candidates in 2008. He's candid, clear, and remains on the offense.