The above may be a little deceptive. Because Hizzoner actually finished tied for second, with Newt. Keep in mind, though, that Newt was actually speaking there. Both had around 16 points. Romney had something like 12. Fred Thompson, though, slaughtered the field with 35 or so.
This conference is put on by Pennsylvania grassroots conservatives, not the GOP party faithful. This is the first time I attended, and I can say this group clearly represents the political center of gravity when it comes to Republican political activism in PA. Of course, there may have been a couple Blue Dog Democrats prowling about as well.
Do I think Giuliani would have scored better if his campaign were not so close to a couple prominent state GOP insiders greatly detested by this group? Yep. I know Team Giuliani has to take support from where it is offered in the GOP tent. And the insiders that repulse these activists will help with fundraising. That is important.
But those insiders don’t deliver votes any more. The folks at the Leadership Conference are the people that will generate votes in a presidential primary, and the general election. His 16 points indicates he can indeed win these people over, even though we will never stop hearing how Giuliani can’t win over the right wing of the party. But getting doubled up by a candidate who has not even announced ain’t good.
Aside: McCain, the man favored by many insiders, only scored a point or two. He and Ron Paul were about even. Any wonder why the men and women who pull the strings don’t want us to have a relevant primary?
UPDATE: A point I mentioned at this site, but did not mention here, deserves emphasis: Note how well candidates who do not have to publicly associate with any PA GOP insider did in this poll. If Newt or Thompson were to announce, the minute they were pictured standing next to any number of prominent GOP insiders their support with this crowd would plummet. Given this, Giuliani’s showing was very strong. But there’s still a lot of work to do.