Rudy Giuliani Will Not Win Republican Nomination, Abortion Main Reason

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Rudy Giuliani Will Not Win Republican Nomination, Abortion Main Reason

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by Steven Ertelt
December 9, 2007 Note: Steven Ertelt is the editor of

The race for the Republican nomination for president is up in the air and plausible scenarios exist whereby several candidates have a realistic shot at receiving the GOP nod. While the former New York City mayor is one of those candidates, I’m willing to go out on a limb and make a bold prediction: Rudy Giuliani will not be the Republican nominee.

Perhaps I’m emboldened by my own success in accurately predicting the exact electoral vote of the 2004 presidential race or, as detractors may say, perhaps I’m guilty of some wishful thinking.

Let’s look at the past, present and future of Republican presidential contests and see why Giuliani will not represent the GOP next November.

Pro-Abortion Candidates Fare Poorly

Rudy Giuliani is going against the grain in trying to capture the Republican nod while laying out a position solidly in favor of legalized abortion.

Going back to 1976, the first serious primary following the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, President Gerald Ford, who backed abortion, defeated pro-life challenger Ronald Reagan.

This is the only GOP nomination since Roe that went to an abortion advocate and only because a) abortion wasn’t nearly the political football it is now and b) Ford had the advantage of incumbency. Pit a Representative Ford, rather than President Ford, against Reagan in 1976 and the results may well have been different.

Fast forward to 1980, and a pro-life Reagan defeated a pro-abortion George H.W. Bush and eventually raced to re-election in 1984. Bush won the nomination in 1988, but only after he had fully converted to the pro-life position.

The next nomination battle occurred in 1996, where pro-life Sen. Bob Dole secured the nomination.

Lamar Alexander ran as a pro-life candidate but caused enough question about his views on overturning Roe that Iowa Republicans dropped him to third and he bowed out of the race after a poor New Hampshire performance.

Steve Forbes ran as an officially pro-abortion candidate and heavy in-state work from the National Right to Life Committee kept him in fourth in Iowa. Pro-abortion candidate Morry Taylor never got off the ground, despite pouring millions into his campaign, and almost finished last.

In 2000, President Bush won his first nomination and finished ahead of Forbes, who did better in Iowa the second-time around in part because he changed his position on abortion. No pro-abortion candidate stayed in the race long enough to earn caucus votes.

Most people forget that pro-abortion presidential wannabes California Gov. Pete Wilson and pro-abortion Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter never got off the ground and dropped out before Iowa voted. That’s despite media support, government experience and coming from large states.

Pro-abortion candidates fail because polls show Republicans are solidly pro-life and abortion issues are always important for GOP voters.

Giuliani Falling in Current National Polls

Rudy Giuliani began the 2008 Republican presidential primary long before most candidates and quickly ascended to a lead in the national polls. His name identification and role in responding to the September 11 terrorist attacks played a large part.

Those polls should be discounted in much the same way that national polls in the general election are meaningless — they don’t represent individual state support.

National surveys represent voters in fifty states. Yet, unless you live in one of the seven states that will vote in January (most of them sparsely populated), your input in a poll doesn’t matter much. Michigan and Florida are the only two large states to vote early and a few of the candidates will have likely dropped out before they head to the ballots.

Although voters in other states can have an impact in terms of donations or promoting candidates, the fact remains that 80-90 percent of voters surveyed in national polls won’t have any tangible input at the ballot box on determining the nominee.

Yet, if you take the national polls into consideration, a clear trend is obvious — the closer the nation gets to the primary voting days the worse Giuliani does. Giuliani polled as high as the upper 30s in March, but has steadily declined over the months and has been at his lowest point overall during December.

Polls in Primary States Show Giuliani Fading Fast

State polls in the early battleground contests are much more instructive.

Giuliani has dropped to fourth or lower in Iowa and has been trailing Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney for weeks. His campaign has written off the state and is doing little to prop up his candidacy there beyond some direct mail. Even a new Newsweek survey has him just one percentage point ahead of a surging Ron Paul.

His drop in the first battleground state is no surprise as 70 percent of Republican voters told the Des Moines Register they want most or all abortions illegal and Giuliani does especially poor with these voters.

While New Hampshire is more open to abortion, South Carolina voters feel about the same and Giuliani will have a hard time playing his pro-abortion views in the South.

The former mayor hopes to hold on to New Hampshire and use a win there to keep him in the mix.

But polls are showing Giuliani now trailing there as well. Romney continues to hold onto a strong lead and John McCain shows up in second. Huckabee’s surge has helped him somewhat in New Hampshire and he is now just five points behind the mayor and rising.

Giuliani can’t count on other states where he had early leads either as they’ve begun to fade with a greater focus on the campaign.

The last poll in Michigan has him one point behind Romney, an ARG survey has him running third in Nevada and he’s lost his South Carolina lead and now is behind both Huckabee and Romney there.

Giuliani’s Florida-Super Tuesday Strategy Won’t Work

The mayor’s only hope to win the nomination rests with Florida, where recent polls show his support dropping although he maintains a strong lead still. Somehow, Giuliani must use a strong showing there to catapult himself into the Super Tuesday contests.

But the wait-until-the-big-states strategy has never worked in the modern era because it relies on assumptions that just won’t come true.

It assumes the primary process won’t chew up candidates who lose in early states.

The old adage is that, in an open primary, Iowa typically yields three tickets to candidates to move on and New Hampshire two. Michigan and South Carolina then put one candidate in the lead to win the nomination.

With the closeness of the race, more candidates will likely survive — but whether Giuliani will be in the race once Florida comes is a serious question.

At this point, Romney and Huckabee appear poised to come out on top in Iowa. Fred Thompson is the likely third place winner, but his recent announcement that he’s going to essentially take up residence there for the next month may move him up. (Fred’s team goes further and acknowledges that waiting until South Carolina won’t work, let alone later in the primary battle.)

McCain has turned his campaign into a New Hampshire or bust strategy (a replay of 2000) and both he and Ron Paul (who does well in this libertarian state) may surprise Granite State observers.

Coming off a likely fourth or fifth place finish in Iowa, Giuliani will have no momentum going into New Hampshire (and likely won’t find any either in Wyoming in its January 5 caucus as most residents look down on East Coast liberals).

Already running second or third in New Hampshire, a strong Iowa showing will move Giuliani down the pecking order to fourth (Huckabee moving up) and possibly fifth (if Paul’s momentum continues).

Media stories about a northeastern mayor having a hard time winning in his own region won’t help as the campaign moves forward.

Michigan votes just one week later but two strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire will have the media talking about Romney and Huckabee. McCain can point to a strong New Hampshire showing (second or third) and past success in Michigan, Thompson will be fighting hard to get from Iowa to South Carolina to stay in the race, and Paul’s people are going nowhere.

This leaves Giuliani out in the cold and likely looking at a third-fifth place showing in Michigan and Nevada.

The second assumption in the Giuliani strategy is that his current standing in the polls in states in the second half of January will stay stable. It ties in with the third — that his fundraising will remain the same as he loses early campaigns.

As Iowa and New Hampshire have shown, Giuliani’s name identification can’t carry him when voters start to look at the issues and there’s little reason to think Michigan or Nevada will help him recover on his way to South Carolina, where Romney, Huckabee and Thompson will likely outperform him again.

Primary races are all about momentum and, when Florida rolls around, Giuliani’s tank will be empty. With little momentum, media stories questioning his ability to win, and likely a hit in fundraising income, it’s difficult to see how Giuliani stages a strong comeback in Florida, where his support is already beginning to sag.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Giuliani leave the race somewhere between the New Hampshire contest and South Carolina or right afterwards. It’s doubtful he would stay in until Florida but he will be history after the Sunshine State votes.

By the time Super Tuesday voters have a chance to have their say, Giuliani will almost undoubtedly be on the ballot in name only and abortion advocates will have to wait at least four more years to try to take over the Republican Party.