NEW YORK – A majority of Americans say they would feel more comfortable with Rudy Giuliani in the White House than Hillary Clinton if another terrorist attack were to happen in the United States, according to a new FOX News poll.
When compared to other top Republican candidates, more voters see Giuliani as hardworking and as a strong leader, while Clinton leads the Democratic field for not only having the right experience, but also being able to bring about change — as well as doing whatever it takes to win. Views are divided on whether it’s appropriate for Oprah Winfrey to use her celebrity status to encourage support of Barack Obama.
The latest FOX News poll shows that if the United States were hit with a terrorist attack, by a 50 percent to 36 percent margin, Americans would rather have Giuliani in charge than Clinton, including 28 percent of Democrats and an overwhelming 80 percent of Republicans. Independents split in Giuliani’s favor 47 percent to Clinton’s 28 percent.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from Sept. 11 to Sept. 12. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Click here to view full results of the poll (pdf).
One of the main themes of Giuliani’s campaign is his leadership capabilities and the poll findings suggest that message is connecting with voters, as more Republicans (43 percent) say the phrase "strong leader" describes the former mayor than the other top tier Republican hopefuls, with John McCain trailing Giuliani by some 24 points.
On having "clear stands on the issues," again, Republicans put Giuliani (25 percent) ahead of McCain (19 percent) and Thompson (16 percent).
Newly announced candidate Fred Thompson tops the list for Republican voters as the "real conservative," at 23 percent, followed by McCain (16 percent) and Giuliani (13 percent). Technically "don’t know" receives the highest percentage (25 percent).
Mitt Romney receives his best showing on which candidate is "personally moral," as 24 percent of Republicans say that best describes the former governor, followed by McCain and Giuliani who both receive 17 percent.
On the Democratic side, with 32 percent Obama gets top billing on "honest and trustworthy," followed by Clinton at 25 percent and Edwards at 19 percent.
A 55 percent majority of voters overall and a 47 percent plurality of Democrats thinks Clinton would "do anything to win."
Although Obama has tried to frame himself as the candidate of change, by an 18-percentage point margin, Democrats say Clinton is the Democrat who can "bring about needed changes." Furthermore, Clinton (60 percent) trounces both Obama (13 percent) and Edwards (15 percent) as having the right experience.
"It is interesting that while both Giuliani and Clinton lead their respective fields, they don’t dominate every quality," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "When a candidate has actually nailed down the nomination their supporters tend to hand them victory on every quality. Right now, though, if the salience of a quality such as honesty were to increase, both Giuliani and Clinton might be hurt."
Primary Preference Results
In the Democratic nomination race, Clinton remains the clear leader and currently tops Obama by 43 percent to 24 percent, with Edwards coming in third with 13 percent.
If Clinton and Obama were the only choices, Democrats pick Clinton by 16 percentage points, down slightly from a 20-point advantage in March.
Giuliani is still the top choice among Republicans, though Thompson is gaining ground. Currently Giuliani is backed by 32 percent, followed by Thompson at 21 percent, up from 14 percent last month. McCain recaptures the third place slot with 15 percent, followed by Romney at 8 percent.
By 51 percent to 43 percent, Giuliani bests Thompson in a two-way race among Republicans.
Both party’s frontrunners polarize the overall electorate. For Giuliani, 36 percent of voters say they would "definitely" vote for him and 34 percent would "never" vote for him. For Clinton, 39 percent say they would "definitely" vote for her and 42 percent "never" would.
About half of Americans (49 percent) think it’s appropriate for Oprah Winfrey to use her celebrity to encourage people to vote for Obama, while almost as many — 45 percent — disagree.
Will Winfrey’s endorsement make a difference? It could. First, the billionaire celebrity is well liked. The poll finds that 68 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of her – that’s 17 points higher than Obama (51 percent favorable). And it isn’t just Democrats that have a positive opinion of Winfrey; her favorable rating is 75 percent among Democrats, 61 percent for Republicans and 65 percent for independents.
Plus, even though only 13 percent say Winfrey’s endorsement makes them more likely to vote for Obama, that equates into millions of potential votes. Unfortunately for Obama, there are nearly three times as many people (30 percent) who say Winfrey’s backing makes them less likely to vote for him, and hardly any people (8 percent) say they have ever voted a certain way because of a celebrity endorsement.
"Endorsements tend to matter most in low profile races where voters have difficulty deciding among or even getting information about candidates," comments Gorman. "The presidential race is hardly low profile, so Oprah’s endorsement means less. Of course, the millions of dollars she can raise for her candidate may have more impact."
Majorities of voters say they would sleep well if Giuliani (61 percent), Obama (59 percent) or Clinton (56 percent) were to become president.
Slightly more people say they would sleep "extremely" well if Clinton (19 percent) were to win the White House than if Giuliani (15 percent), Obama (15 percent) or Thompson (13 percent) won. But more people would be tired, too; slightly more say they would not sleep well "at all" if Clinton were to win the election.