I refuse to put much stock in these horserace polls considering how far we are away from the primaries, let alone the general election, but it's kind of funny that Giuliani has this huge lead over Romney and McCain when Republican voters don't know diddly about him.
Still, most registered Republicans are not familiar with Giuliani's positions on key social issues: 34 percent of all Republican voters polled and 38 percent of social conservatives are aware he is pro-choice on abortion. And 51 percent of all Republican voters and 49 percent of social conservatives aren't sure where he stands on the issue. On gun control, just 17 percent of all Republican voters polled and 19 percent of social conservatives are aware he's a supporter of gun control. Sixty-seven percent of Republican voters polled (66% of social conservatives) aren't sure of his stand. And 16 percent of all Republican voters polled and 15 percent of social conservatives are aware that Giuliani opposes a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage; (70% overall and 72% of social conservatives aren't aware of his position).
I'm not one of those who believes this will actually completely kill Giuliani in the GOP nomination process - they've shown a clear preference for being dominated by the most "butch" candidate, and that's Giuliani right now. But on the flip side, should Giuliani be the Republican nominee I don't think there's much of a chance for there to be the kind of turnout among base voters that helped the Republicans so much in 2000, 2002 and 2004. And the GOP needs them now more than ever, as independents have begun re-aligning with Democrats after their heavy petting with the RNC in 2004. i could see the pro-war and big business factions easily dropping in lockstep behind Giuliani - he's one of their own - but conservative evangelicals who saw jihad in the fight against John Kerry are going to be hard to rev up in favor of a thrice-divorced Italian social moderate from New York (with an estranged relationship with his children) no matter what the 9/11 myth is.
There's a better than 50-50 chance that the independent vote will split in 2008, with a slight bias towards the Democrat. The Democratic base is now even more certain that the only way to make progress on their major issue - Iraq - is to elect a Democratic president to lead the House and Senate. Even if the candidate is Sen. Clinton, the most "hawkish" of the front runners, we're more enthused than the GOP base.
I certainly count myself among those who thought Giuliani did an admirable enough job of leadership on 9/11 (of course that's proportional since the president took a good 216 hours before he showed any and it was downhill from there), but I think I'm also with the majority of folks who say that it, combined with his shady business dealings and lack of character judgment (Bernard Kerik is Giuliani's echo of Harriet Miers and Michael Brown) doesn't remotely qualify him to be president, especially after this most recent disaster.
WEASEL MOMENT: Or, I could be wrong.