Rudy Giuliani is falling, and falling fast, in the GOP primary polls. A new study, released by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal has the former New York City mayor dropping 13 percentage points nationally in just one month. Hizzoner now finds himself in a statistical tie for first place with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both of whom are at 20 percent.
Giuliani's fall has been driven in large part by voters souring on his character. According to the poll, 37 percent of respondents view the former mayor in a negative light, the same percentage that view him favorably. In March, a month after Giuliani officially filed his statement of candidacy, 58 percent of those polled had a positive perception.
Over the last month, Giuliani has seen a wave of bad press. The Politico reported that as mayor, Giuliani hid security detail costs for protecting his then-mistress Judith Nathan, by filing them with obscure city agencies. Around then the Village Voice reported that a subsidiary of Giuliani's security firm had done work for a Qatar company that had ties to a terrorist figure. Even prior to then, Giuliani's long-time confidant and close adviser Bernard Kerik was indicted on conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the IRS.
The totality of these reports, observers say, does not bode well for Giuliani's candidacy.
"He's the old man in the sea," said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who helped conduct the survey. "By the time he gets to Florida, there's only going to be skeletal remains." Giuliani has pursued a primary strategy that relies heavily on the larger, later-voting states. But even in Florida (which holds its primary on Jan. 29) he finds his popularity waning.
If there is one saving grace for Giuliani it is that no one in the GOP field has been able to capitalize on his sinking numbers. According to the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the five frontrunning Republican candidates are all within nine percentage points of each other. Romney and Giuliani register at 20 percent; Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has shot up the polls, now finds himself with 17 percent support nationally; while Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, and former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-TN, garner 14 percent and 11 percent support respectively.