Posted: Oct. 12, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey has taken a new PublicMind poll of the political pulse in Delaware.

It is good news for Rudy Giuliani, bad news for George Bush and so-so for Joe Biden. Here is a look at those findings, which arose from a statewide survey Oct. 3 through Oct. 9 of 700 registered voters, in reverse order.

Biden is in fine shape to run for a seventh term in the U.S. Senate next year -- not that anyone needs a poll to know it, because the Republicans lack a candidate to run against him. The hometown crowd, however, has doubts about his prospects for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Most of the people like Biden. He was regarded favorably by 57 percent and unfavorably by 26 percent with the rest not saying. This result was virtually the same as the poll taken of Biden the last time it counted, when he was re-elected in 2002 with 58 percent of the vote. He looks locked in.

"Many say Connecticut is the 'Land of Steady Habits,' but Delaware is pretty constant, too," quipped James R. Soles, a  political scientist retired from the University of Delaware.

As much as the Democrats in the poll approve of Biden, with 76 percent having a favorable opinion, he was not their top choice for president. Hillary Clinton was. She led the pack with 41 percent --  about where she tracks on the national polls analyzed by Real Clear Politics, a Web site that has her at 48 percent.

If it is any consolation for Biden, the Democrats here are the only ones backing him in double digits. Fairleigh Dickinson has him at 19 percent, while the national polls put him in low single digits.

The field stacks up this way among state Democrats: Clinton at 41 percent, Biden at 19 percent, Barack Obama at 17 percent and John Edwards at 7 percent. Delaware's presidential primary is Feb. 5, the same day about 20 states vote, following crucial early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Biden's standing probably is due to the perception that not many here think he has a shot at the nomination. Only 4 percent rated his chances as excellent, 13 percent as good, 33 percent as fair and 50 percent as poor.

"Any candidate, especially one trying to move up from the second tier, needs to be able to count on the support of their home state, especially if it has an early primary. People approve of Biden, but many of his potential supporters in Delaware seem convinced that he can't win, and that's hurting him," said Daniel Cassino, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson.

Regardless of political affiliation, Delawareans are unhappy with Republican George Bush and the way he is conducting his presidency. Almost two-thirds disapprove, either strongly or somewhat.

The results: 13 percent approve strongly of Bush, 16 percent approve somewhat, 13 percent disapprove somewhat, and 51 percent disapprove strongly. In a breakdown by party, Democrats registered 86 percent disapproval, either strongly or somewhat, with independents at 69 percent, and Republicans at 33 percent.

Delawareans also think the country could be doing better -- with 20 percent saying it is moving in the right direction and 68 percent saying it is on the wrong track. Nor are they pleased with the war effort in Iraq, with 56 percent believing it is going "not too well" or "not at all well" and 59 percent saying the war was a mistake.

A Republican who could be cheered by the Fairleigh Dickinson poll is Rudy Giuliani, the New York City ex-mayor running for president. He led the field among Delaware Republicans with 37 percent of the vote, better than he is registering in the Real Clear Politics national polls at 30 percent.

Delaware Republicans expressed their preferences this way: Giuliani 37 percent, John McCain 14 percent, Fred Thompson 13 percent and Mitt Romney 10 percent.

Giuliani probably is benefiting from being the only Republican candidate who has had two public appearances here this year and from proximity. In the insular world of Delaware politics, familiarity tends to breed not contempt, but contentment.