Because Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign has taken the (now much criticized tactic) of focusing most of its energy and resources on winning the state of Florida, he has fallen so much out of the national spotlight in recent weeks that his lead has evaporated in not only national polls, but also what were considered “sure-bet” (and delegate rich) states like New York, New Jersey, and California.
The extent of Giuliani’s fall is remarkable. The former New York mayor’s miscalculation over a month ago was that it was worse for his campaign to compete and lose in the early states than to not compete and end up in fourth, fifth, or even sixth place. As a result of this strategy, for the entire month of January, all the media coverage was on the Republican candidates who were winning states—Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and John McCain.
If Giuliani was mentioned, it was in the context of the ‘Florida firewall’ or how poorly he had done in these key early states: 6th place in Iowa (3 percent), tied for last place in Wyoming (0 percent), 4th place in New Hampshire (9 percent), 6th place in Michigan (3 percent), 6th place in Nevada (4 percent), and 6th place in South Carolina (2 percent). Giuliani has only beaten Ron Paul in one state, New Hampshire, and that was by just one point.
Worse yet, Giuliani had been leading in the polls in nearly all of these states: in Iowa and New Hampshire as late as the end of July (ARG), in Michigan as late as the middle of November (Detroit News), in South Carolina as late as the end of November (ARG), and in Nevada as late as the first week of December (Mason-Dixon). Thus, these are not states that the Giuliani campaign can say they had no chance of winning all along.
Given the media frenzy toward Huckabee, Romney, and, particularly John McCain, Giuliani now also trails in several key states, including Florida. The latest Rasmussen poll of likely Florida GOP primary voters (conducted on January 20th) finds Romney at the top with 25 percent, followed by McCain with 20 percent, Giuliani with 19 percent, Huckabee with 13 percent, Thompson with 12 percent, and Paul with 5 percent.
Astoundingly, Giuliani also trails McCain by double digits in two polls of New Yorkers released today: by 36 to 24 percent in a new Siena poll and by 34 to 19 percent (with Romney at 19 percent as well) in a WNBC/Marist survey.
A Rasmuseen survey of likely New Jersey GOP primary voters gives McCain a 29 to 27 percent lead over Giuliani, within the margin of error.
In a Rasmussen GOP poll in California conducted last week, Giuliani had fallen all the way to 5th place: McCain 24 percent, Romney 17 percent, Huckabee and Thompson 13 percent, and Giuliani 11 percent. Giuliani also trailed McCain in California by 6 points in a CNN/LAT Times poll and by 15 points in a SurveyUSA poll both conducted about a week ago. Giuliani was leading well outside the margin of error in California as late as the middle of December (Field, SurveyUSA).
The problem for Giuliani—even in the unlikely event that he wins Florida—is that there is little time for him to regain his advantage in most of these key Super Tuesday states (there is just a one week buffer). As a result, political scientists, marketing firms, and future campaigns will no doubt use the Giuliani campaign as a case study of what not to do for years to come.