“Rudy’s Got No Heartland”
The above New York Post headline is talking about Iowa, where Giuliani’s numbers are becoming all but undetectable. But it gets to the heart of the Rudy problem. In recent conversations with New Hampshire Republicans, I’m struck by how fierce hostility to the Mayor is. The media put this down to problems with “social conservatives”, but that underestimates the scale of the problem. Granite State libertarians and small-government types find his gun record unacceptable. Base-wise, that doesn’t leave a lot.
The striking feature of the recent polls is, regardless of which state is hot for Huck or Mitt or McCain, for Rudy they’re all trending the same way. As electoral markets mature – ie, as primary day looms – informed voters grow more antipathetic to the Mayor. That’s to say, his numbers are worst in Iowa, marginally less catastrophic in New Hampshire, out of contention in Michigan and South Carolina – but they’ve slid dramatically everywhere roughly in proportion to the imminence of the big vote. It requires a lot of blind faith to believe that Florida and beyond will be immune to this trend after a month in which the early winners and runners-up are getting all the media and Giuliani isn’t even part of the narrative. I’d be interested to know from David Frum and other Rudyites in these parts whether there’s any expectation of a turnaround or whether the campaign is betting everything on a strategy that accepts remorseless decline in support but assumes they’ll still have a one or two point margin by voting day in Florida.