When I look at polling data I am drawn to a candidate's unfavorable score among their own party. For me it is a very telling statistic. And Rudy Giuliani, even at times when he has had high favorability ratings over the past year, has also had a pretty high unfavorable ratings among Republicans. It is easy not to like him, and many people don't. (The pollingreport.com has great favorability data on Guiliani over time, although not much by party affiliation.)
When Giuliani ran for mayor of New York in 1993 he did so as a law and order candidate, playing on his experience as a U.S. District Attorney. New York responded well to his tough demeanor. A little snarl was a welcome thing at the time, and Mayor Dinkins had worn out his welcome. Giuliani also was a pretty moderate Republican, a political breed that still exists in small pockets on the coasts, so he was able to attract some independent voters. When he barely won the election by just more than 50,000 votes he became the first Republican mayor of New York in 28 years.
Perhaps American's are tired of W's angry squint, but the snarl just doesn't play in the current environment. And sadly, a moderate Republican, particularly from New York, isn't going to rally the party's ultra-conservative core.
Giuliani's re-election campaign in 1997 was successful but he faced a very weak challenge from Ruth Messinger. Giuliani won 59 percent of the vote, but voter turnout also hit a 12-year low. People weren't coming to the polls to support him, they just weren't inspired by the competition. We'll never know if he could have won a third mayoral race, term limits made sure of that. His 2000 Senate campaign violently imploded in April and May of 1999. Barring September 11th his political career was likely over.
After September 11th Giuliani became a national figure. The rest of the country viewed him very differently than the population of New York did. He wasn't popular on September 10, he was very unpopular. The nation created a different story for him, one that gave him a second career. He became popular in a symbolic, rather than tangible way. Now we are back to reality, the old Rudy Giuliani that New Yorkers know. They guy it was very easy not to like. From day one I've said "there is no way this guy gets elected President." But then again, I said that about the squinting dunce from Texas.