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Giuliani's exit, and the role of endorsements

Giuliani's collapse from national front-runner to his swift exit after a disappointing showing in Florida is one for the record books, and the subject for another day, but where do his voters go?

Perhaps anticipating Giuliani's demise (pre-election polls nailed this one), exit pollsters in Florida asked GOP voters for their second choice. The data reveal that little would have changed in the Sunshine State if the former mayor had dropped his presidential bid earlier: both McCain and Romney were the second choices of 32 percent of Giuliani's voters. (Eight percent said Thompson, 4 percent Huckabee and 3 percent Paul; 4 percent said they would not have voted.)

Nationally, in fall Post-ABC polls, more Giuliani voters went for McCain on second choice than to any other candidate. And it's McCain who Giuliani endorsed tonight at the Reagan presidential library.

The endorsement may further lift McCain. Academic research (see G.W. professor John Sides's post in the Monkey Cage) and yesterday's exit poll show the right backing can make a crucial difference.

In Florida, McCain beat Romney by more than 2 to 1 among voters who decided how to vote within the last three days and said Gov. Crist's endorsement was "very important" to them. On the Democratic side, although Obama lost to Clinton by nearly 20 percentage points, 55 percent of those who decided late and called the "Kennedys" endorsement very important voted for Obama, 30 percent for Clinton.

By Jon Cohen  |  January 30, 2008; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  Exit polls  
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Next: Independents? In Florida?

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