New Rasmussen New York Numbers — and a Lecture on Media Coverage

A new Rasmussen poll has Hillary Clinton thumping Rudy Giuliani in New York, 58 to 33 percent. So does this throw cold water on the Giuliani campaign’s claims that their man is uniquely suited to compete on Democratic turf? Not really.

The size of Hillary’s lead is a little surprising, but it’s not exactly a revelation that New York, which lasted voted for a G.O.P. presidential candidate in 1984, is a lock for the Democrats next year.

A better test of Giuliani’s potential to pick off blue states is probably New Jersey, whose 15 electoral votes haven’t been seriously contested by Republicans since 1992. A Quinnipiac poll last month showed New Jerseyans favoring Rudy over Hillary, 47-44 percent. Compare that to the G.O.P.’s Garden State futility the past three elections – an 18-point win for Bill Clinton in 1996, a 17-point win for Al Gore in 2000, and a 7-point win for John Kerry in 2004.

On a separate note, Rasmussen has a baffling bit of analysis up on its web site, lecturing reporters for “missing what matters” in the G.O.P. race. Rasmussen’s basic claim: That the media overplayed the August 11 Iowa Republican straw poll, where Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee were the top finishers:

Both Romney and Huckabee received a minor bounce in the polls for a few days. But, two weeks later, the national polls show that the Iowa event had virtually no impact. Romney remains mired in third place barely ahead of John McCain. Huckabee’s support continues to be measured in the mid-single digits.

I don’t understand Rasmussen’s point. Huckabee’s surprise second place finish was a major development in the campaign, since it opened the door to improved fundraising (a significant challenge for the cash-strapped candidate), increased credibility with party activists, and higher profile and more favorable media coverage, now that he has demonstrated some viability. No one, as far as I know, was under the impression that the actual news of his 8/11 performance would affect national polls. That’s not the point. The point is that 8/11 signaled that Huckabee has some strengths that help him make a splash four or five months from now.

The same is true of Romney, who has focused on the early states. He leads polls in Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. He needed his straw poll win to maintain his credibility with the folks who have fueled his rise in those states. If January rolls around and Romney actually wins them, his national poll standing will take care of itself.