Pollster: First Lady Losing Ground to Giuliani

By Ben Anderson | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

(CNS) - First Lady Hillary Clinton is falling behind Republican New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a potential match-up for the US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), according to pollster John Zogby.

Clinton's "unfavorable" rating has also risen in the last thirty days.

Of those surveyed, 50.4 percent favor Giuliani while 40.2 percent chose Mrs. Clinton.
Giuliani's lead over Clinton has nearly doubled in the last month from 5.6 percentage points to 10.2. A similar survey conducted in May had Giuliani polling at 49.3 percent versus Clinton's 43.7 percent.

And the gap between Mrs. Clinton and Giuliani is widening, so is the gap between Clinton's favorable and unfavorable ratings. The survey indicates Clinton's combined favorable rating dropped 15 points from 62 to 47 percent. Her combined unfavorable rating jumped from 31.4 to 44.7 percent, an increase of 13.3 percentage points.

Clinton's strongest support is among New York City voters, while the Mayor leads strongly among suburban and upstate voters, who make up 72 percent of the New York state electorate.

Upstate, Giuliani leads Clinton 50.5 to 36.7, a 13.8 margin, and holds a commanding 63 to 31.1 percent lead in the suburbs. "Hillary's lead in the City cannot stay at the same level if she has any hope of winning," said Zogby.

Among NYC voters, Clinton's favorable rating is set at 61 percent, while her combined unfavorables are placed at 31 percent. Upstate voters view Giuliani favorably by a margin of 50-19.

Zogby said the campaign battleground will be in the suburbs, where Giuliani presently leads Clinton two to one.

Mrs. Clinton has yet to secure a residence in New York, prompting critics to accuse her of being a carpetbagger. Voters upstate have taken notice, according to Zogby, suggesting Clinton may have a tough time trying to win the support of voters who are often skeptical of NYC politicians.

"In upstate [New York], including upstate Democrats, there is a sense of her being twice removed from reality," Zogby told CNSNews.com.

Historically, he said, upstaters will consider NYC candidates for statewide office but cautiously question whether they are really concerned about non-New York City issues.

"Here, you have a situation where someone is not even from New York City. So somebody that's coming from the outside, talking to New York City advisors and then saying, almost patronizingly, 'Well, you know, I've been to Elmira, I think,'" said Zogby.

Zogby said Clinton can still win, but it will take a major gaffe by Republicans, which Zogby refuses to rule out as a possibility.

The First Lady has been the subject of media attention over her "carpetbagger" status and the use of taxpayer funded air transportation to make campaign trips between Washington, D.C., and New York. Republican sources say they will continue to pressure Clinton on the carpetbagger issue as she prepares to announce the formation of her exploratory committee next Wednesday.

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Stuart Roy suggested that as Clinton gets closer to announcing her candidacy, New Yorkers are growing concerned. But Roy expressed caution that early poll numbers could hold their weight.

"As people have gotten to know her and her campaign has become a reality, her numbers have sunk lower and lower. However, we're still sixteen months out from the election and I'm sure the polls will fluctuate between now November, 2000," Roy told CNSNews.com.

Conducted over the last two days, the poll included 705 likely New York State voters. Neither Clinton nor Giuliani have officially announced their candidacy for the Senate, but each is presently the only contender among their respective parties.