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Smart Politics Study: Giuliani Descent Linked Equally to Huckabee, Romney, and McCain

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Political pundits have largely explained Rudy Giuliani's decline over the past few months as a direct result of two factors: a) his failed campaign strategy that abandoned the early primary states and b) John McCain's surge—the latter being a logical supposition considering both candidates are considered to vie for the same votes: moderate Republicans and independents.

However, a Smart Politics study of nearly 200 national polls finds that while McCain's surge has helped to dethrone Giuliani of his frontrunner status, support for Giuliani has been equally impacted by Mike Huckabee, and nearly as impacted by Mitt Romney.

A regression analysis was performed of 197 national GOP primary polls conducted between October 2006 and January 2008 with national percentage point support for Rudy Giuliani as the dependent variable. Here are the findings:

  • A 1-point increase in support for McCain caused a .392 point drop in support for Giuliani, holding for support for Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, Mike Hucakbee, and Ron Paul. Results were significant at the .001 level.
  • However, a 1-point increase in support for Mike Huckabee caused a nearly identical .380 point drop in support for Giuliani, holding for support for Thompson, Romney, McCain, and Paul. Results were significant at the .001 level.
  • Additionally, a 1-point increase in support for Mitt Romney caused a notable .313 point drop in support for Giuliani, holding for support for Thompson, McCain, Huckabee, and Paul. Results were significant at the .05 level.

Variable support for Thompson and Paul did not have a statistically significant impact on Giuliani's performance in the polls.

In short, Giuliani's decline cannot be solely attributed to the McCain surge, but, rather, a combination of McCain, Huckabee, and Romney all taking away support from the former New York City mayor in nearly equal amounts (each also winning primary or caucus contests along the way).

There may have been room at the top for both McCain and Giuliani, but not with Huckabee and Romney performing equally well.

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3 Comments


  • Relation does not prove causation. Isn't it more likely that people realized Giuliani is a creep, and subsequently his competitors' poll numbers rose as his support eroded?

    Giuliani's precipitous drop correlates pretty well to revelations that he was using shady accounting to cover his taxpayer-funded trysts with his mistress, as well as providing her with police escorts even before their relationship was public.

    I'd have written your headline, "Giuliani Descent Linked to Giuliani"

  • OK - but even if there was a measure for 'creepiness' the question I'm asking is, "Where is Giuliani's support going?" The traditional view is almost all of it went to McCain, but the regression analysis I conducted demonstrates it goes to McCain and Hucakbee equally and nearly as much for Romney.

    The very nature of the primary horserace is that someone is taking support away from someone else. Admittedly there are other variables one could introduce into the regression model, such as economic indicators (which are seen to have helped Romney in recent weeks). But, the short of it is that former Giuliani supporters were not monolithic (independent Republicans, moderates etc.). If that were the case we would not have found the strong statistically signficant impact of Huckabee and Romney on Giuliani's support as well.

  • I agree with your comment.

    My only quibble was that the original article made it seem as though McCain, Huckabee, etc. were doing something dynamic to pull support away from Giuliani. Rather, I think you agree, Giuliani self-destructed and the competitors 'inherited' his support.

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