Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Is There a Giuliani Vote in the Red States?

Publius, of Res Publica &c, isn't so sure, contra Hugh Hewitt.

Publius thinks the Republican base, especially in the South, is just too conservative to nominate the pro-choice, pro-gay rights former mayor. I think he's probably right, that almost any reasonably competent social conservative will be able to take the nomination away from him in 2008. (This assumes Roe v. Wade is still good law in 2008. If not, all bets are off.)

I also think that, if one assumes a Hillary Clinton candidacy on the part of the Democrats (though that's obviously not a given), Giuliani probably gives the Republicans the best chance at retaining the presidency next time. (Though probably any serious GOP nominee could best Clinton, who would, I think, make Kerry and Gore look like strong candidates.)

Giuliani's sexual-politics liberalism probably gets him at least consideration in the Blue States. It's not difficult to imagine states like Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey being swing states in a Giuliani-Clinton race. And in the Red States, Hillaryphobia would probably be sufficient to keep enough social conservatives from defecting to the inevitable Pro-Life 3rd Party (Moore/Keyes in '08!) to keep those states in his column. (Not me, of course, but enough.)

Of course, this only works if he's facing Clinton. Against another candidate, one who inspires less irrational hatred among conservative, Giuliani might fare quite poorly in the general election. He might well lose more votes on the right than he'd pick up on the left. He'd be bearing the brunt of the entire Catholic hierarchy, every part of which would find something to dislike in the pro-choice, pro-death penalty, pro-war Giuliani. Plus, Giuliani's electoral history isn't exactly awe-inspiring. He's been in three elections in his life; he split with David Dinkins (David Dikins!) and defeated the not-exactly-vaunted Ruth Messinger. This does not exactly fill one with confidence that he'd clean the floor with, say, Tennessee Governor Phil Breseden.

Particularly if Giuliani runs (but even if he doesn't) the 2008 Republican primary is shaping up to be the first in my lifetime that's genuinely and self-consciously about the ideological future of the Republican Party. For the first time since 1980, you have the combination of a wide-open nomination and strong candidates representing the party's Moderate and Conservative (or, if you prefer, RINO and theocon) wings. I think the Conservatives will probably win, for a number of structural and demographic reasons, but the fight will be fierce, and will shape the future of the GOP for further generation.