By Brian C. Mooney, Globe Staff
Phooey to the inside-the-Beltway pundits who believe Rudy Giuliani's campaign strategy is off the wall because it shortchanges early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and instead commits candidate time and resources to big, delegate-rich states that won't vote for another four or five weeks. That's the tone of an everything-is-peachy memo issued today by Giuliani's strategy director, Brent Seaborn.
Titled "Looking Good" and sent to key supporters and the news media, the memo notes that early and absentee voting has already started in some of those big states presumed to be Giuliani-friendly -- including Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Illinois. It also cites the average results of public polling data in those states showing Giuliani with a large lead over his nearest competitor for the Republican nomination.
But the numbers include polls that are, in some cases, three to seven weeks old, before Giuliani began to slip virtually everywhere. More recent surveys show Giuliani's lead, even in Florida, his firewall state that votes on Jan. 29, shrinking dramatically.
"Our campaign remains convinced that our strategy we have long had in place is right -- bold, innovative, and designed to deal with the radically different election calendar," Seaborn wrote. "While many of the beltway insiders seem to remain committed to the old, 'Carter/Clinton' approach and have questioned the adjustments we have made to our strategic thinking based on the new calendar, we clearly have a winning plan to secure the nomination in an election cycle unlike any other. History will prove us right."
If not, this memo will be filed in the whistling-past-the-graveyard category.
At the same time Seaborn relies on past polls to validate his theory, he warns his readers [read: the news media] not to trust the next wave, saying accurate polls in New Hampshire "will be nearly impossible, with the holidays complicating it logistically and the Iowa news cycle dominating press and potentially disrupting the order of the race."
Likewise, polling in South Carolina, Michigan, and the other early states will "be further blurred with the range of new polling methodologies that are being tested, ranging from robotic calling to internet polling."
That may have been a reference to recent nightly tracking polls by Rasmussen Reports, an independent firm which uses automated calls to create an average four-day rolling sample. Figures released Sunday and today had Giuliani falling to fourth place nationally, with 15 percent, in a bunched field of five candidates separated by a mere five percentage points. Today's totals had John McCain at 17 percent, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee at 16 percent, Giuliani at 15, and Fred Thompson at 12.
A month ago, Rasmussen's polling had Giuliani at 27 percent -- 14 or 15 percentage points ahead of the same four rivals.