Politics

Republicans Most "Enthusiastic" About Giuliani

by Frank Newport and Joseph Carroll

Fifty-one percent say they would enthusiastically vote for the former New York City mayor

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Republicans are more enthusiastic about the candidacy of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to be their party's nominee for the 2008 presidential election than they are about any of the other leading Republican contenders. Not only does Giuliani continue to lead the pack when Republicans are asked whom they support for the GOP nomination, but he is also the candidate Republicans are most likely to say they would vote for enthusiastically in the general election should he win the nomination.   

There are no signs in the latest USA Today/Gallup poll that any of the major candidates for the GOP nomination gained standing as a result of the Republican debate that took place in Michigan last week; the race has remained remarkably steady. At the same time, a majority of Republicans who express a candidate preference say they might change their minds about whom they will support.

Republicans appear to be least enthusiastic about the potential candidacy of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. If Romney were to gain the GOP nomination, more Republicans say they would vote for him primarily to avoid voting for a Democrat, rather than voting for him enthusiastically. The possibility of Arizona Sen. John McCain gaining the GOP nomination is also viewed less enthusiastically by Republicans than would be the candidacy of Giuliani or former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Republican Nomination Ballot

The new Oct. 12-14, 2007, USA Today/Gallup poll finds that the Republican debate that took place last week in Dearborn, Mich., -- the first in which Thompson took part -- did little to change the basic make-up of the Republican race. Giuliani continues to lead the pack of Republican contenders, with 32% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents currently supporting him for the nomination. Giuliani is now 14 points ahead of Thompson, who gets 18% of the vote. Fourteen percent of Republicans favor McCain and 10% prefer Romney as the party's presidential nominee. No other Republican candidate garners more than 6% support. None of the changes compared with Gallup's last poll is statistically significant.

The basic structure of the race has remained virtually unchanged since September, and from a broad perspective has not changed a great deal since June, when Thompson first jumped above 20% in the GOP poll.  

However, the GOP race remains -- at least in theory -- quite fluid. A majority of Republicans with a candidate preference tell Gallup that they might change their minds about whom they will support between now and next year's primaries and caucuses. Just 44% of Republicans say they are certain to support their candidate, while 53% may change their minds.

By comparison, 57% of Democrats (including Democratic-leaning independents) say they are certain to vote for their preferred candidate; only 42% may change their minds. 

These findings give further support to the assumption that the GOP race is in flux, while the Democratic race is more and more coalescing around the candidacy of Hillary Clinton (Gallup's analysis of the latest poll results among Democrats will be published on Wednesday).

Vote Enthusiasm

The latest poll also asked Republicans to indicate their overall enthusiasm about voting for each of the four top contenders if they were to win their party's nomination.

Republicans would be most enthusiastic about voting for Giuliani if he were to win the GOP nomination. Fifty-one percent of Republicans say they would vote for him enthusiastically, while 38% would vote enthusiastically for McCain and 37% for Thompson. Only 25% would enthusiastically vote for Romney. 

(Asked of Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican Party) If -- [RANDOM ORDER] -- wins the Republican nomination for president, which would best describe your reaction -- you would vote for him enthusiastically in November 2008, you would vote for him, but mainly as a vote against the Democrat, you would vote for the Democrat, or you would stay home on Election Day and not vote?


2007 Oct 12-14
(sorted by "vote
for enthusias-
tically")


Vote
for
enthusias-
tically

Vote for,
mainly
against
the
Democrat


Vote
for
 the
Democrat



Stay
home,
 not
vote



No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

Rudy Giuliani

51

27

6

9

8

John McCain

38

37

5

10

10

Fred Thompson

37

30

5

11

17

Mitt Romney

25

38

9

13

17

Some of the observed differences in the enthusiastic vote measure are attributable to higher "no opinions" when it comes to Thompson and Romney. 

Still, it is telling to note that in Romney's case, more Republicans say they would vote for him "mainly as a vote against the Democrat" as opposed to enthusiastically voting for him should he be the GOP nominee. Additionally, 22% of Republicans flat out say they would vote against Romney or not vote at all if he were to be the nominee. (The percentage who would not vote for the other three is roughly at about 15% each.)

In short, Romney at this point is not only generating just 10% of the Republican vote, but he also is in the position of having Republicans saying they would end up voting for him should he win their party's nomination more to avoid voting for a Democrat than out of enthusiasm for his candidacy in its own right.

If the GOP nominee were McCain, the percentages who would vote for him enthusiastically and vote for him "mainly as a vote against the Democrat" are essentially equal, suggesting a lack of Republican fervor for his candidacy.

Meanwhile, Republicans seem more inclined to cast their votes "happily" in favor of Thompson and especially Giuliani rather than voting mainly to defeat the Democrat.

Candidate Image Among Republicans

In terms of overall image, Republicans continue to rate Giuliani more favorably than McCain, Thompson, or Romney. In the latest poll, 67% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Giuliani -- higher than the 61% for McCain, 53% for Thompson, and 41% for Romney. Roughly one in three Republicans are not familiar enough with Thompson or Romney to rate them.

Favorability of Republican Candidates
Among Republicans/Republican Leaners

Oct. 12-14, 2007

Favorable

Unfavorable

No opinion

%

%

%

Rudy Giuliani

67

27

6

John McCain

61

30

9

Fred Thompson

53

17

30

Mitt Romney

41

25

34

Thompson's rating among Republicans did not change meaningfully in the current poll compared with the pre-debate poll in early October. His favorable rating went up by three points and his unfavorable rating went up by five points. In other words, he became slightly better known, but his image did not move strongly in one direction more than the other.  

The bottom line for Thompson's first debate appearance seems to be that it had little immediate effect on his standing among Republicans in terms of either his image, or in terms of his standing in the trial heat poll.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,009 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 12-14, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 411 Republicans or Republican leaners, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/101953/Giuliani-Generates-Most-Enthusiastic-Support-From-Republicans.aspx
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