The Rudy Question


I try and tackle it in my Sunday Times column today. Money quote:

The polling is extremely clear: Giuliani, for all his heretical tendencies, is still ahead of every other Republican candidate. Moreover, a recent Gallup poll found only 23% of Republican voters deeming him 'unacceptable' compared with 41% saying the same for John McCain. The salient question to ask is: if Giuliani is so abhorrent to conservatives, why is he polling so well?

We don't know the answer to that yet. It's hard to gauge a campaign's viability before it has begun. My view is that the managers and spokesmen of the base may be misreading the real mood of the evangelical rank and file. They're more pragmatic than their leaders. If Hillary Clinton is the alternative, many Republicans will overlook Giuliani's social moderation.

Moreover, there is a growing sense even among hardline conservatives that they may have overreached badly these past few years. Their stridency on abortion, gays, stem-cell research and end-of-life issues has begun to lose them many voters in the suburbs, the Midwest and the Mountain West. They are worried that the thumping loss in the midterm elections of 2006 was not a blip but the turning of a tide against them.

If they believe that, maybe Giuliani is the perfect antidote.

Here's hoping.

(Photo: David Paul Morris/Getty.)