Michael Powell and Michael Cooper have a quick-and-dirty obituary for Rudy Giuliani, the candidate who blew as much as a 30-point lead and lost to Ron Paul three times.
No candidate last summer sent out as many direct-mail appeals in New Hampshire as Mr. Giuliani. Last fall, the campaign also broadcast its first television commercials there, ultimately spending more than $3 million on advertisements, and dispatched Mr. Giuliani there for lots of retail campaigning in a state where voters tend to worry more about taxes and the military than conservative social issues. And he seemed at peace with this choice.
"It is not inconceivable that you could, if you won Florida, turn the whole thing around," Mr. Giuliani told The Washington Post in late November on a bus trip through New Hampshire. "I'd rather not do it that way. That would create ulcers for my entire staff and for me."
Indeed it did! But the campaign did an admirable job of lying and saying they never expected to win New Hampshire.
In the end, Mr. Giuliani and his advisers treated supporters as if they were so many serried lines of troops. If they tell a pollster in November that they are going to vote for you, this indicates they are forever in your camp, their thinking went.
But politics does not march to a military beat; it is a business of shifting loyalties. By Tuesday night, even those voters who rated terrorism as the most important issue were as likely to vote for Mr. Romney or Mr. McCain as for Mr. Giuliani.
This says a lot about Rudy's strategy, and why it failed. To steal an insight from my friend Spencer Ackerman, Rudy ran not as a Republican, but as a Ba'athist: a strongman who would crush criminals, terrorists and welfare cheats by the force of his mighty will. He'd done it before! While John McCain, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee ran as candidates of the modern GOP, making criticisms and building coalitions from the inside, Giuliani ran to become leader—party was incidental. He asked that we all remember what we felt like on 9/11 and promised to make us feel that way every day. It didn't work, but I think we should count ourselves lucky there wasn't an open presidential election in 2002.
As to that Democratic candidate who's jumping out of the race, Dana Goldstein has a well-timed article (published two days ago) about what will happen to Edwards' supporters. She tackles a theory that I've heard a lot of conservatives say, one that hasn't been tested out:
Intuitively, it makes sense that Edwards supporters would trend toward Obama. Both candidates ran as the anti-Clinton. Edwards even spoke about his own affinity toward Obama's "change" message at the last New Hampshire debate.
But some polling suggests otherwise. A Jan. 24 Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg News poll found that nationally, Edwards voters prefer Clinton to Obama by a slight margin. She could have an edge among those who are attracted to Edwards' focus on the economy. "Hillary talks about the economy more than Obama, and she's connected to the Clinton presidency, which people view as successful on the economic front," Teixeira said.
Hillary isn't a divisive figure in the Democratic Party, although she's gotten a bit less well-liked as her surrogates recited from old Ron Paul Survival Reports to hold down Obama's share of the white vote. There simply isn't a massive anti-Clinton vote in the primaries, which is why, unable to pick one campaign tack, Edwards reeled side-to-side like William Hurt in the hallway in Altered States. He got tough on Hillary, and he was booed; he decried Hillary's negative attacks, and he came third in his home state.
The Republican nominee will probably be chosen by a minority vote in these early primaries, especially since John McCain's narrow <40 percent wins keep getting covered like incredible landslides. The Democrat will be chosen in a one-on-one race between the candidate of the 1990s restoration and the candidate of a 1960s renaissance. For the first time in a while, I wouldn't bet on Obama. He needs to win their Thursday debate in a rout to rattle those de facto Clinton voters.