Six years after the terrorist attacks that vaulted him to national prominence, it's unclear whether 9/11 will lift Rudy Giuliani all the way to the presidency: He remains hamstrung in the Republican base, and his overall support for his party's nomination has slipped in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Giuliani does better with Republicans who are concerned about another major terrorist attack in this country, a legacy of his 9/11 performance. But among those less focused on terrorism, he's in a dead heat against newcomer Fred Thompson.
Thompson also challenges Giuliani among conservatives and evangelical white Protestants -- base groups in the Republican constituency -- while John McCain has stabilized after a decline in support. Giuliani still leads, but his support is down by nine points in this poll from his level in July.
Indeed this is the first ABC/Post poll this cycle in which Giuliani had less than a double-digit lead over all his competitors: He now leads Thompson by nine points (and McCain by 10). Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 28 percent support Giuliani, 19 percent Thompson, 18 percent McCain and 10 percent Mitt Romney. Other candidates remain in the low single digits. (There's no significant difference among registered voters -- and plenty of time to register.)
The Democratic race, meanwhile, remains exceedingly stable; Hillary Clinton has led Barack Obama by 14 to 16 points in each ABC/Post poll since February, and still does.
Democrats remain more satisfied with their choice of candidates: Seventy-eight percent say they're satisfied with the field, vs. 68 percent of Republicans.
GOP GROUPS -- The Republican race, as noted, is closest in core Republican groups, which differ with Giuliani's positions on issues including abortion and same-sex marriage. Among evangelical white Protestants, Thompson has 29 percent support to Giuliani's 25 percent; among conservatives, Giuliani has 24 percent support, while Thompson's right there with 21 percent.
Giuliani does better among moderate Republicans, with 35 percent support. But they're outnumbered by conservatives in the party by more than 2-1.
While Giuliani's slip in support in this poll is broadly based, it's steepest among women, among whom he's gone from 41 percent support in July to 27 percent now. He's also lost ground to McCain and Thompson in his native Northeast, usually his best region.
Likely related to his strong, 9/11-inspired ratings for leadership, Giuliani has a wider lead among Republicans who cite the war in Iraq as the most important issue in their vote -- 36 percent support, followed by McCain at 25, Romney at 12 and Thompson at just seven percent. Among Republicans who cite other issues, Giuliani and McCain get eight or nine points less support apiece, and Thompson jumps to 26 percent.
TERRORISM -- As noted, Giuliani does better among Republicans who are concerned about another terrorist attack, with 31 percent support in this group to McCain's 19 percent and Thompson's 17 percent. Among those who are not so concerned about another attack, by contrast, Giuliani and Thompson run evenly.
Not all views on terrorism work as well for Giuliani. For instance, his support is no different among Republicans who are confident in the government's ability to prevent further terrorism compared with those who aren't confident.
DEMOCRATS -- While the Democratic race is very stable overall, some shifts among subgroups continue. Clinton is back to a much larger lead among women than men -- among Democratic and Democratic-leaning women, 51 percent support her for the nomination; among men, her support drops to 29 percent. Obama runs about evenly with Clinton among men, with 32 percent support, but does less well with women, with 23 percent -- less than half Clinton's support.
Clinton's support is softer among Democratic-leaning independents (30 to 32 percent for Obama), those with higher incomes (35 to 37 percent for Obama), Southerners (35 to 33 percent for Obama) and those under age 40 (37 to 32 percent for Obama).
ISSUES -- The war in Iraq dominates as a political issue in the 2008 election, but more among Democrats -- who're far more critical of the war -- than among Republicans.
Among Democrats (and Democratic-leaning independents), 44 percent call the war the single most important issue in their vote for president, a very high level of agreement on an open-ended question. Sixteen percent say health care, with all other answers in single digits.
The war in Iraq is No. 1 among leaned Republicans as well, but at a lower level, cited by 26 percent; 13 percent cite the economy, 11 percent, terrorism.
Looking ahead to the general election, Democrats have an advantage on Iraq: Asked which political party they trust more to handle the war, 42 percent of Americans cite the Democrats, to 31 percent -- a new low since 2002 -- for the Republicans.
There is room to move, however: Nineteen percent -- a new high -- say they don't trust either party to do a better job on Iraq.
METHODOLOGY -- This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 4-7, 2007, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. The results have a three-point error margin for the full sample, 4.5 points for the sample of 467 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and five points for the sample of 401 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.