A Softening for Giuliani As the '08 Race Progresses

Clinton wins support from 47 percent of African-Americans (Obama, 42 percent) and 38 percent of whites (Obama, 25 percent). Clinton does 12 points better with Democrats than with Democratic-leaning independents, and 18 points better with those who haven't gone beyond high school than with college graduates.

For Giuliani, the most notable gap is ideological: He does 18 points better with moderate or liberal Republicans than with conservatives. Indeed, among conservatives, Giuliani and McCain are virtually even, with 27 and 21 percent support, respectively; it's among moderates (and the relatively few liberal Republicans) that Giuliani takes the clear lead.


Giuliani's comparative weakness among conservatives looks linked to his past support for legal abortion and gay civil unions. Overall, half of leaned Republicans say they're less likely to support him given this issue; among conservatives that rises to 60 percent, nearly twice its level among moderate and liberal Republicans.

Further, among those less likely to support Giuliani because of these issues, two-thirds (67 percent) say there's no chance they'd vote for him -- up from 49 percent earlier this year. Again, conservatives are twice as likely as moderate or liberal Republicans to rule out Giuliani entirely on the basis of abortion and gay marriage.

Republican Attributes

Giuliani has very sizable leads over McCain and Romney (the two against whom he was tested in this poll) on several personal attributes -- being able to handle a crisis, being the strongest leader, most inspiring and having the best chance to win. But it's a much closer call against McCain on being the most honest and trustworthy candidate, and McCain has the edge on having the best experience.

As noted, Giuliani's score on several of these is down from February, with the decline occurring mainly among conservatives, evangelical white Protestants and women. Moreover, across all these attributes his ratings among conservative Republicans are nine to 18 points lower than they are among moderate and liberal Republicans.

McCain, for his part, has lost some ground on one attribute: There's been a 12-point decline in the number of Republicans who think he's best able to win in November -- 22 percent now vs. 34 percent in February. On the other hand, fewer Republicans now say they're less likely to vote for a candidate for president who's older than 72, as McCain will be next year.

Democratic Attributes

Among the top Democratic candidates, Clinton leads Obama and Edwards particularly on the related qualities of experience, leadership and trust to handle a crisis, as well as on electability and closeness on the issues. She and Obama are close on their inspirational qualities -- with the divisions noted above; and the category of honesty and trustworthiness is a clear Clinton weakness.

War and Bush

Democrats are nearly twice as likely as Republicans to cite the war in Iraq as the most important issue in their vote, and much less likely to cite terrorism. (Other top issues for Democrats are the economy and health care, while Republicans divide among the economy, immigration, "leadership" and abortion.)

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