Thursday, October 04, 2007

Clinton Leads Giuliani 51%-43 % In Post-ABC Poll

Sen. Hillary Clinton has gained in a match-up against former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the 2008 Presidential race, now leading in a Washington Post-ABC News Poll by 51% to 43%, when she was ahead of Giuliani only 49% to 47% in January.

According to the latest poll, Clinton would beat Giuliani 88% to 9% among Democrats and 48% to 44% among Independents. Giuliani leads among Republicans 88% to 10%. Clinton also has a slight advantage over Giuliani in negatives, with 41% saying they would not vote for her, as against 44% for Giuliani. Other Republicans have even higher such negatives than Giuliani, with 45% saying they would not vote for Sen. John McCain, 54% saying they would not vote for former Sen. Fred Thompson and 57% saying they would not vote for former Gov. Mitt Romney.

The polls results released today follow yesterday's poll showing that Clinton has opened up a massive, 53% to 20% lead over Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, while Giuliani holds a 34% to 17% lead over Thompson for the Republican.

This comes at a time when Giuliani, realizing he is behind in a match up, has already begun attacking Clinton, suggesting (with little or no proof) that her candidacy is like Sen. George McGovern's in 1972. Also, the New York Times today reports that Giuliani backers are the major supporters of a proposed ballot initiative in California that would split the state's electoral votes next year, thus, in a presumptively Democratic state, giving the Republican a proportion of the California electoral vote and possibly shifting national electoral perspectives. The Times story, by Jennifer Steinhauer and Raymond Hernandez, takes note of the possibility that the initiative will not qualify for the ballot, and might be challenged constitutionally if it does. But the story contends that the possible initiative battle is an early test between Giuliani and Clinton forces, with Giuliani's camp supporting it and Clinton's camp opposing.

I've said before in this blog that there are already strong indications a Clinton-Giuliani race would be bitterly divisive, and extremely hard fought. Clinton will certainly not be another John Kerry, turning the other cheek for long periods when attacks were made against him. She has already shown in the Democratic primaries a willingness to fight back, a willingness which will only intensify in a general election campaign.

Overall, today's poll results provide a good deal of evidence that Clinton would go into a contest with Guiliani
with a distinct advantage, despite any reservations that may exist about a woman as president.

For one thing, it is clear that the Iraq war is an albatross around the Republicans' neck and an advantage to the Democrats, as things presently stand,

But the poll also indicates Clinton has other advantages. Specifically, the poll shows that voters are quite accepting, by a margin of 60% to 30%, of the notion of former President Bill Clinton serving in the White House as a "First Husband."

At the same time, the poll indicates, voters believe Hillary Clinton would be in control. By a margin of 67% to 27%, those surveyed said Hillary would take the country in a new direction in contrast to simply resuming the policies of Bill Clinton's administration. And of that 67%, 52% said they thought that would be a good thing while only 15% said they thought it would be a bad thing.

A lot of things are breaking well for Clinton right now. Not only has she surpassed Obama in fundraising for the first time, but it appears that neither the campaign of Obama nor that of former Sen. John Edwards is making any headway. Clinton has, in the meantime, broken ahead in the Democratic primary race in New Hampshire, and seems to be catching up to Edwards in Iowa. With sufficient funds, she will be able to launch massive advertising in both states, which should benefit her in the early tests.

As someone asserted to me just this morning, Clinton may not be the laid back, popular personality that her husband was. But she is more disciplined and might be a better President.

From a broader point of view, in the nomination fights, Clinton's strong name identification will in all likelihood prove a decisive advantage in the large state primaries that follow the Iowa and New Hampshire results, and it might also be said that strong name identification will serve Giuliani well in the Republican races, especially since there are early signs that the Thompson campaign is not taking off well. The New York Times says this morning that Thompson is having a hard time catching on and has not been impressive on the stump.

While Giuliani does not have the easy road to the Republican nomination, that Clinton apparently does to the Democratic, it appears at this point that Giuliani should be favored to win the GOP contest.

I do not think Giuliani is by any means to be counted out in a race with Clinton. He is an aggressive, inventive campaigner, and his religion and ethnicity might well be an advantage in the big industrial states of the East and Midwest. There is always, too, the possibility of a terrorist attack that would move voters again toward the Republicans. And we don't have a precise idea how the male-female issues will finally break.

But Clinton has skillfully moved to preempt the security issue to some extent from Giuliani. Her recent statement that she would expect at least some American troops to remain in Iraq through a first term is a move to grab the center, and force Giuliani to the right. And it seems already that the MoveOn.org people of the Democratic left do not command the Democratic primaries, that the McGovernite left in the Democratic party has been preempted.

The race is shaping up. Clinton is the early favorite, but, as I say, Giuliani cannot be counted out.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post and New York Times are winning the contest, if it is one, to see who can most comprehensively cover the campaign, hands down over the Los Angeles Times. The L.A. Times simply doesn't have the massive political coverage it had in the past, even though it has competent reporters. It's yet another failure of the Tribune Co. to invest in doing something well.

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Today is the 50th anniversary of the launching by the Soviet Union of Sputnik, the first successful Earth satellite. I was a Sophomore at Dartmouth at the time, and a subscriber to the New York Times at a student cut rate. I remember as if it were yesterday picking up the Times the next morning and being startled by the banner headline: "Soviets Fire Earth Satellite; It Is Circling The World At 18,000 MPH."

Satellites have become common, and after a 35-year-hiatus, exploration of the Moon and Mars is revving up. The Japanese have recently launched a moon orbiter, and the U.S., China and India are expected to do so soon. The U.S. has an active rover on Mars and another on the way, to seek ice in the polar regions. The space race, 50 years after Sputnik, is moving into a new phase.

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