I forget where I was reading it or who was telling it to me, but it was lately brought to my attention that George W. Bush polled quite well in surprising places like Massachusetts early in the 2000 election cycle. Once the campaign really got going, of course, most states reverted to their expected loyalties, and the election turned into a squeaker.
This came up in the context of Giuliani’s numbers in blue states now. They’re great, ahead of Hillary Clinton or Obama. But by November 2008, what are the odds that most liberals and blue-state independents are still going to want to vote Republican — especially if the Iraq War continues to fester? By then, of course, we’ll be refamiliarized with names like Bernie Kerik and Abner Louima. What exactly is Giuliani going to campaign on, anyway? That he’ll kill more foreigners and jail more Americans than Hillary Clinton will? I don’t think he’ll sell in the blue states — and by that point he might not sell in the red states, either.
Nominating Romney, meanwhile, amounts to putting a poodle in a kiddie pool with a crocodile. Hillary will eat him whole. Of the three top Republican contenders, it’s McCain who actually stands the best chance. But that’s not saying much — I certainly wouldn’t put any money on him.
All this is just idle chatter, of course. The events of the next year will shake up the contenders quite a bit. The one good thing about this extended presidential season is that all the leading contenders can only lose popularity as the thing drags out, allowing all the more time for gaffes, mudslinging, and the intercession of force majeure. Giuliani, as the most publicity-fueled candidate, stands to lose the most, especially once red-state Republicans hear where he actually stands on issues like abortion and guns. But I wouldn’t count on that to derail his march to the nomination, with so many primaries front-loaded, including California, which has now adopted a district-by-disctrict allocation scheme for awarding delegates in the primary. Even if Giuliani lost the state of California as a whole, he could pick up enough delegates from liberal areas to put him well on the way to locking down the nomination.