Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Analysis: Outsiders Obama, Giuliani surging in 2008 races

By Bill Schneider for CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Who's got the heat for 2008? One Democrat and one Republican. And in one case, it's coming from a surprising place.

The 2008 races on the Republican and the Democratic side are taking on a familiar shape -- an establishment candidate and an outsider in each party. And right now, the outsiders have the heat.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's the establishment Democrat.

In last month's Washington Post-ABC News poll, Clinton had a big lead over outsider Illinois Sen. Barack Obama -- 40 percent to 17 percent.

In the Washington Post-ABC News poll published Wednesday, Clinton is still ahead, but Obama's gaining ground. Clinton's lead is down to 12 points -- 36 percent to 24 percent.

The poll's margin of error in regard to questions about Democrats was plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

The most dramatic pickup for Obama has been among blacks. Last month, Clinton led Obama among black Democrats by three to one -- 60 percent to 20 percent. Now, Obama leads Clinton among black Democrats 44 percent to 33 percent.

The poll's margin of error for questions about black Americans was plus-or-minus 8 percentage points.

It's not that black Democrats are souring on Clinton. Her popularity with blacks remains undiminished. But Obama's creating excitement.

"It's the fact that you have an African-American candidate who has a serious chance of becoming the nominee of the Democratic Party and that inevitably is going to excite African-Americans around the country." said Dan Balz, a political reporter for the Washington Post.

Giuliani opening lead over McCain

In the 2000 Republican race, Sen. John McCain was the outsider. Now the Arizona Republican is the establishment candidate.

"McCain obviously spent a good part of the last year trying to establish himself as the heir apparent in the Republican Party, and he had some success with that." Balz said.

Last month, McCain and outsider Rudy Giuliani were pretty close in the Washington Post-ABC News poll. Giuliani enjoyed a 34 percent to 27 percent lead over McCain.

Now, Giuliani's way ahead of McCain -- 44 percent to 21 percent.

The poll's margin of error on questions about Republicans was plus-or-minus 5 percentage points.

Why is Giuliani sprinting ahead? Here's a surprise -- evangelicals.

Last month, Giuliani and McCain were tied among evangelical Republicans -- 28 percent for Giuliani, 31 percent for McCain. This month, Giuliani has surged into the lead -- 44 percent to 19 percent.

Doesn't Giuliani favor abortion rights and same-sex unions and gun control? Yes -- and no.

"I am pro-choice," Giuliani told CNN's Larry King, "but I am also, as you know, always have been, against abortion."

Giuliani makes a distinction between his personal views and what he would do as president.

"I would select judges who try to interpret the Constitution rather than invent it." Giuliani told King -- language abortion rights opponents interpret as support for judges who would overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to an abortion.

Giuliani has something else going for him -- 9/11.

Republicans say Giuliani's the most inspiring candidate. Democrats say the same thing about Obama. They're the outsiders.

Republicans give McCain the edge on experience. Just as Democrats do with Clinton. They're the establishment candidates.

Which is it better to be? Establishment candidates usually win the nomination. But only after a tough fight.

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