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February 8, 2007
Florida Shines For Giuliani

The 2008 primary campaign still seems pretty young to lend much weight to state by state polling -- but we won't let that stop us from having fun with it anyway. Quinnipiac released its results for Florida, a key state for both parties and a must-hold for the GOP. Rudy Giuliani came out on top in the poll, besting Hillary Clinton within the margin of error, the only Republican to do so:

In an early look at the 2008 presidential race in Florida, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has a razor-thin 47 - 44 percent lead over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, while Sen. Clinton edges Arizona Sen. John McCain 47 - 43 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

These results are close to those in a January 30 poll of Ohio voters by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll, where Clinton squeaks past McCain 46 - 42 percent and edges Giuliani 46 - 43 percent. ...

Giuliani gets 29 percent of Florida Republican primary voters, with 23 percent for McCain, 14 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and 6 percent for Romney.

"Rudolph Giuliani runs very well in Florida, which is considered to be a socially conservative state, despite his support for abortion rights, gay rights and gun control," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Whether that is because they don't know about his stand on those issues or don't care will be the key question as the campaign unfolds."

Head-to-head results are probably the least reliable in surveys at this stage of the race, especially general-election match-ups. Primary race polling may have a little more value, but part of the problem is that Republican voters don't know some of the candidates well enough to form an opinion of them, which makes their predictive value low.

A better indicator of the race is the favorability quotient of each candidate. Giuliani comes out on top here as well, with a +40 and 20% who don't know him well enough, the latter a moderate surprise, given Giuliani's high public profile and the number of New York transplants in the state. Even more interesting, Giuliani has a +4 quotient among Democrats, and a +39 among independents, which indicates a lot of strength at the center.

Hillary has problems there. She's only at a +12 in Florida with 10% not having an opinion, and among Republicans, she's a -62. Independents have her at a break-even for favorability, a huge disadvantage for her against Giuliani. Barack Obama gets a +19 overall, with 44% needing more information, and John Edwards has a +17 with 27% still looking to make up their mind. That points to a wide-open Democratic primary, with Obama having the most opportunity to steal a state from Hillary.

Two politicians scored negatively on overall favorability. Al Gore has a -1, but Newt Gingrich had the toughest time in Florida, with a -22. That seems rather surprising, as Florida has a reputation for conservative voters and politics. That could also result from the wait-and-see strategy adopted by the former Speaker, but if he decides to enter the race, he'll have to spend a lot of time in this state.

One more interesting note: Mitt Romney is a massive cipher in Florida. More than 75% of respondents need more information on Romney, which gives him an opportunity to establish a political identity on his own terms to a greater extent than any other candidate. If he can tailor his message to the center-right electorate in Florida, he could challenge Rudy Giuliani for this critical state.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 8, 2007 4:59 AM

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