Trump Not Rudy in Disguise

A frequently heard element of the Trump’s-already-lost belief system is the comparison you often see between The Donald’s Invisible Primary poll standing and that of Rudy Giuliani in 2008. Philip Klein briskly disposed of it earlier this week:

When Giuliani ran for president, he actually was at the top of national polls for far longer than Trump has been to date. Whereas Trump has led for the past three months, since about mid-July in the RealClearPolitics average, the same average had Giuliani ahead from February 2007 through early January 2008, right after his poor showing in the Iowa caucuses. Though the RCP average starts in February 2007, one could argue that Giuliani’s reign as the leader of the field started even earlier. For instance, a June 2006 Gallup survey had Giuliani at the top of the pack. Effectively, Giuliani was ahead from before anybody was a declared candidate until right after the voting started. Looking at this alone, it’s easy to see the potential paralell between Giuliani and Trump.

But there’s a crucial difference between Trump and Giuliani. Though Giuliani outperformed all other candidates nationally, he never polled as well in the early primary states, which are ultimately much more important. Giuliani never led in Iowa or New Hampshire beyond a short period in the spring of 2007, and was never ahead by more than a few points in South Carolina polling.

In contrast to Giuliani in 2007, Trump not only leads nationally, but in the individual states. He leads by 5.6 points in Iowa, and by double digits in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

At the same time, Trump has been building a stronger organization in the early states than Giuliani, who pinned his hopes on winning Florida. But he was essentially out of the race by the time the race made it to the Sunshine State.

If this isn’t clear enough, Giuliani gambled on a skip-the-early states strategy only to discover that by the time he engaged in Florida his support had all but vanished. Trump is not only heavily engaged in the early states; he’s also the candidate least likely to forget that when you take yourself out of the campaign news for crucial stretches of time, you can’t just pick back up where you left off without damage.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.