Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fox Poll: Hillary Would Do A Better Job Handling Iraq Than Rudy

Some intriguing factoids from the latest Fox News poll, reported by Greg Sargent (bio) at TPM Café's Election Central .
Rudy [Giuliani] may be running for President on the "national security credentials" he allegedly earned by being Mayor on 9/11, but a new poll finds that people think he'd do a worse job than two of his chief rivals handling our most pressing foreign policy problem: Iraq.

The new Fox News poll, released today, finds that more people (45%) think Hillary would do a better job handling the Iraq situation than think Rudy would (40%).
Why might that be?
This probably isn't terribly surprising, since Hillary says she'll do what the majority wants (end the war) while Rudy suggests he supports the policies supported by an ever-dwindling minority (continue the surge).
That may strike Sargent as a plausible and satisfying interpretation, but it's almost certainly off-base ... for reasons that his next several points actually make clear.
Interesting side note: John McCain, who's a more vocal backer of the surge, is also comfortably ahead of Rudy on this question. [41% vs. 32%]
(McCain scores higher on this question among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents--and that's true even though, overall, Republican voters prefer Giuliani over McCain as a nominee.)
Another interesting side note: When asked to choose between Hillary and Barack Obama on the same question, more people choose Hillary to do a better job handling Iraq, 35%-27%.
In short, so far Clinton seems to have been pretty successful at establishing her credibility in this matter.
Oh, and President Bush's approval rating has bounced all the way up to 32%.
A few more factoids (but remember that there is still a year and a quarter to go before the 2008 election):

Among the candidates in the Democratic primary, Clinton is very clearly ahead of the rest of the pack--she leads Obama comfortably, by slightly increasing margins, and leaves the rest way behind.

When potential Republican candidates are matched against the two strongest Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, either Clinton or Obama beats any of the Republican candidates. The Republicans with the strongest showings in such a match-up are Giuliani and McCain--who, perhaps surprisingly, get about the same percentages. On the other hand, a solid plurality of Democratic respondents (49%) and 34% of Republicans think that McCain's candidacy is already dead.

Make of all this what you will. There are still almost 16 months to go....

--Jeff Weintraub