Does Giuliani Even Have A Path To The Nomination Anymore?

Speaking of the spectacular fall of Rudy Giuliani, both the Real Clear Politics and Pollster averages of the national race for the Republican nomination show Mike Huckabee climbing to within 3 points of Rudy Giuliani. Add to this Giuliani's current tie for distant 3rd in Iowa, his falling behind McCain into 3rd place in New Hampshire and his possibly having fallen into 4th place in South Carolina and we just may have a flameout of monumental proportions on our hands. So what's happened to the former front-runner? Two things out of his control and at least two that should have been within it.

First of all, Hillary Clinton began to lose her aura of inevitability. As you can see by looking at the InTrade market trends, Clinton peaked as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination on around Nov. 21, three weeks after the fateful Philadelphia debate. At that time her shares were trading at $72 (equating to 72% chance of winning the nomination.) Now they're trading at $55 a share.

Exactly one week after Clinton's shares began to fall, Giuliani's shares peaked at $46 and since then have dropped to the current price of $37; in that exact same period, Huckabee's shares rose from $8 to $16 a piece. Giuliani made the mistake of largely hanging his nomination hat on the ability to beat Hillary Clinton in November. When the threat of a Hillary Clinton nomination waned, so did most of the rationale for a Giuliani candidacy, which freed up Republican voters to go with their hearts, not with their heads. The result: the Huckabee surge.

Another problem for Giuliani has been the increased level of interest in domestic issues among the electorate and a reduced focus on foreign threats. Surprisingly, there really hasn't been much fearmongering over terrorism in this primary race on the Republican side (Tom Tancredo's ridiculous mall bombing ad notwithstanding.) Giuliani has even downplayed it in his ads, going up late in the cycle with ads that focused on his supposed success turning New York City around; this strategy has been echoed by McCain whose initial focus on his war hero status has given way to a fiscal restraint message. The political zeitgeist has turned on Giuliani in just about every way one could imagine, including from a media perspective. A few weeks ago there was a series of really bad news stories for Rudy, culminating in his less than stellar Meet The Press appearance of a week ago.

Of course, this didn't all have to mean the end of Rudy. As the reputations he'd cultivated as 9/11 hero and the anti-Hillary candidate waned in importance, what remained as the smoke cleared could have been a strong candidate who had a compelling message of why he should be president; he had neither. In addition, his over-reliance on his national lead and his relative neglect of the early states are now biting him in the ass. A few weeks ago I wrote that conventional wisdom had it that Giuliani needed to leave Iowa in 3rd place and New Hampshire in 2nd to have a chance; right now neither of those things appears likely.

And to top it all off is the latest poll out of Florida, which has always been the one state that showed Giuliani way ahead of the pack and, for a while there, holding steady. Not so in the latest Rasmussen Reports survey, which finds Giuliani dropping into 3rd with 19% behind Huckabee with 27% and Romney with 23%. This is the first Florida poll to show Giuliani in anything but first place, and his RCP average is still 13% ahead of Huckabee, but if this at all a sign of things to come for Rudy in Florida, the claim that Giuliani can hold out until Florida and run the table on February 5th, ie that Giuliani's lead would prove to be "momentum-proof," is about to be challenged severely. If Rudy collapses in Florida, any credible claim to a path to the nomination simply disappears.

Can Giuliani turn things around? Not too likely if today's coverage of his flailing campaign in New Hampshire is any indication. Here's The AP's take on his New Hampshire event today:

He's not giving up on New Hampshire yet. He returned for one public event on Monday and told an audience at a town hall meeting he hoped they would give him a boost "right here in New Hampshire, where you've got one heck of an important primary coming up."

"I'll be spending some of my Christmas holiday here in New Hampshire, which I really look forward to. Maybe you'll even get a chance to see me ski," he said. "We'll be here and we'll be working really hard to get your vote."

And here's First Read's:

If the Giuliani campaign was interested in playing down talk that the candidate is struggling in the early nominating states and not taking New Hampshire particularly seriously, it had a funny way of showing it.

Giuliani came to New Hampshire Monday, but had only public event (he also had a retail stop in Barrington but didn't alert the national media). Speaking to employees of Goss International Company, he seemed tentative and spent only half of his normal hour at the town hall (he was running late, campaign officials said, because of weather delays). After taking the last question, Giuliani seemed unclear what to do next, taking a long pause and outstretching his arms before transitioning to ask the attendees for their vote, which he has rarely done on the campaign trail.

All of which is to say that I think Jerome is right on with his prediction that InTrade will have Giuliani's chances of winning the nomination down in the single digits once the early states vote. Along the same lines, the reluctance that InTrade's traders appear to have in expressing as much confidence in a Huckabee nomination as his polling numbers would appear to merit, indicates to me that Romney right now is in the best position to win the nomination, even if he loses Iowa.

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Giuliani Fading, Ron Paul Haul

The prognosticators that said Rudy Giuliani would never win the Republican nomination are looking in much better shape than they were a month ago:

Giuliani is now decreasing his media buy in New Hampshire. Amidst the rising tide of McCain&Huckabee in New Hampshire, the lead by Romney, and the persistence of Ron Paul, could now conceivably find himself placing 5th in New Hampshire. And that would be on the heels of a similar show in Iowa. Giuliani is apparently going for broke in Florida:

the uncertainty of the early races has given them the confidence to rely on delegate-rich Florida as a springboard. “An important objective throughout has been to keep the race wide open until February 5th,” said this source. “With the increased spending and negativity of Gov. Romney’s campaign, the rise of Gov. Huckabee and the staying power of McCain, the fluidity looks like it will keep this race wide open past the first few states.”
That would be true, if Giuliani were placing 2nd or 3rd in those states along the way, but if he's not even placing 3rd in any state before Florida, there's just no way he's still viable by that time. Rudy is even starting to slip in his home state NY, now with just 34 percent of the vote. I'll make a prediction: Giuliani's in-trade market price will fall to single-digits within a month. Ron Paul has now raised over $18 Million in the 4th quarter. Paul has smashed the single-day record of online fundraising. What's next? Is it inconceivable that Paul approaches the records set by Obama and Clinton?
In a 24-hour period on December 16, the campaign raised $6.026 million dollars, surpassing the one-day record of $5.7 million held by John Kerry. During the day, over 58,000 people contributed to Dr. Paul’s campaign, including 24,940 first-time donors. Over 118,000 Americans have donated to the campaign in the fourth quarter. The $6 million one-day total means the campaign has raised over $18 million this quarter, far exceeding its goal of $12 million.
Probably not, but Paul most certainly will raise the most money by any candidate during this quarter.

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Do Republicans Relate More To Americans?

DailyKos must love me. This is the third diary I've written about my pessimism about our chances next year. I want to point out that I still think we are favored to sweep next year, despite everything, but I think I have to make a point that I believe support for Democrats and progressives in America may be weak and based merely on the mistakes of the past rather on hope of the future.

I truly believe, at the end of the day, when faced with a choice and issues aside, America will find itself relating more to the GOP than the Democrats. Hold your fire and read on.

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CNN: Huckabee And Giuliani Tied Nationally

Following up on Jonathan's post on CNN's poll of the Democratic race, their latest Republican national primary poll (337 RVs, 12/6-9, MOE +/- 5%) shows what has been evident in the Rasmussen Daily tracking for about a week: that Giuliani and Huckabee are tied nationally.

Dec. 6-9Nov. 2-4RCP 5-poll Ave.
Giuliani242824.4
Huckabee221018.4
Romney161112.4
McCain131612.6
Thompson101912.2
Paul654.4
Hunter24
Tancredo13
No Opinion65

Note that as Huckabee rises, so does Mitt Romney, as he appears to have gotten a bump out of the media coverage of his speech on Thursday (this poll was in the field the day of the speech and the three days following.) This is somewhat interesting since an either/or dynamic between Romney and Huckabee has developed in Iowa. Nationally, in addition to Giuliani, Huckabee's rise comes at the expense of Thompson (who is just cratering) and McCain who are passed here by both Romney and Huckabee, relegated to 4th and 5th places respectively. One of the things that always kept Thompson and McCain in the running even as their early state strength diminished was their strong national standing. It's clear that that is rapidly eroding.

While CNN and Rasmussen tracking have Huckabee tied for first place nationally, it's interesting to note that the InTrade prediction market is lagging a bit. While Huckabee has risen sharply over the past 2 weeks from about 8% likelihood to win the GOP nomination to 18-20%, Giuliani has only fallen 5% to about 40% likelihood. Despite the fact that Giuliani's path to the nomination becomes more and more murky as early state poll after early state poll is released, the markets are not convinced, certainly not by Huckabee whose recent press has largely portrayed him as well outside the mainstream. But the more we continue to see results such as the latest SurveyUSA poll out of South Carolina, which shows Huckabee surging into 1st with 30% and Giuliani dropping to 4th with 13%, the more likely we are to see the markets follow suit.

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Rudy the Reluctant New Yorker

There is a large segment of the US population that loves to hate NYC.  I'm pretty sure this is why New York gets destroyed in so many movies.  Audiences love to see monsters, natural disasters, and giant marshmallow men take a crippling bite out of the big apple.  

No one understands this better than Rudy Giuliani.  He's waged his entire campaign war chest on hostility towards New York.  Rudy Giuliani isn't the product of everything wonderful that NYC has to offer, but a fighter who has survived growing up in America's most reviled city and lived to tell the tale.

So it makes sense that Giuliani runs against his hometown.  Last week's New York Magazine takes a close look at how Rudy talks about NYC on the campaign trail.  It's interesting reading, even if you're already familiar with the Giuliani narrative.

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