In advance of Tuesday night's GOP debate, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani appears comfortably perched atop the field of Republicans running for president with a double-digit lead. But how solid is his advantage?
In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 34 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they'd support Giuliani if their state's primary or caucus were held today; that's 14 points higher than the number who supported his closest rival, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney followed with 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
But Giuliani had no significant edge among conservative Republicans, a group critical in the battle for the GOP nomination. According to this Post-ABC News survey, 29 percent of conservative Republicans supported Giuliani, with McCain just 4 percentage points back at 25, Thompson at 14 percent and Romney at 10 percent. (Conservative Republicans make up about half of the leaned Republicans in the poll.)
What other demographic, ideological and issue-based factors shake up the Republican campaign?
Party identification: In Post-ABC News surveys, the primary vote question is asked of both self-identified Republicans and self-identified independents who say they lean toward the Republican party. Those who self-identified as Republicans were more likely to support McCain than others. The senator from Arizona earned 24 percent in this group, but only 10 percent among independents who leaned Republican.
Gender: Women in the Republican electorate supported Giuliani at the same rate as men. However, 15 percent said they remain undecided, compared to only 6 percent of men.
Age: Those under age 45 were more likely to support McCain than their older counterparts; 27 percent among the younger set compared with only 15 percent among the elder.
Education: Republicans who have graduated college split their vote relatively evenly among three of the top four candidates: Giuliani at 25 percent, McCain at 20, Thompson with 19 percent, and Romney 16.
The dissatisfieds: Those who said they are either very or somewhat dissatisfied with the Republican field so far could bring volatility to the campaign. Seventeen percent already support Fred Thompson's fledgling candidacy for president, compared to 11 percent of those Republicans satisfied with the current field.
Ideology, a deeper look: As noted above, McCain and Giuliani ran about even in the race for conservative Republicans. Delving deeper, it is a faction of the party that may prove to be unfriendly territory for America's Mayor.
Four in 10 conservative Republicans said there is no chance they would vote for Giuliani because of his positions on abortion and gay civil unions; another 22 percent said these positions would make them less likely to vote for him.
And when conservative Republicans were asked to choose whether Giuliani, McCain or Romney is the candidate closest to them on the issues - Giuliani had no advantage.
But Republicans and conservative Republicans alike were more likely to cite issues such as the U.S. campaign against terror, the economy, the war in Iraq and immigration as the single most important issue in their primary vote than they are to cite social issues.