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Latest polling in the 2008 White House campaign shows Hillary Clinton (left) leading a three-way race for the Democratic nomination, while Rudolph Giuliani heads the Republican field, with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney showing early signs of a surge.
While opinion surveys are simply long-range indicators nine months before first nominating contests, they do serve to set perceptions of the race in the media and among likely voters, and spotlight trends that can be used by campaign chiefs to sharpen tactics.
New York Senator Clinton appears to be maintaining the lead in national polls that she has had for months.
A Time magazine national opinion survey in late March gave her the support of 31 percent of voters, compared to 24 percent for rising star Senator Barack Obama and 16 percent for defeated 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards.
The latest Fox News poll had her at 36 percent ahead of Obama with 18 percent support and Edwards back on 13 percent. Rasmussen last week put the race at 33 percent for Clinton, 26 percent for Obama and Edwards at 17 percent.
But when the focus turns to the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire, the race appears much tighter, and Clinton consequently more threatened.
After months of intense campaigning in Iowa, and several weeks after revealing that cancer had returned to haunt his wife Elizabeth, John Edwards led Clinton in a University of Iowa poll conducted between March 19 and 31, earning the support of 34 percent of likely voters, compared to the former first lady’s 29 percent. Obama trailed with 19 percent.
His lead in the state, the first to weigh in on the nominating process next January, was confirmed by a Strategic Vision poll last week, which pegged him at 27 percent compared to Obama on 20 percent and Clinton in third on 19 percent.
In the other key early voting state, New Hampshire, Clinton appears to be holding on to a steady, yet small lead.
A Zogby poll had Clinton at 29 percent last week, with Obama and Edwards tied at 23 percent. A CNN survey had Clinton on 27 percent, followed by Edwards with 21 percent and Obama with 20 percent support among likely New Hampshire primary voters.
All other Democratic candidates lagged well behind.
On the Republican side, Giuliani is at the head of the national race, well ahead of former front-runner John McCain and Romney, according to polls.
The ex-mayor of New York stacked up 34 percent support in a Cook Report/RT Strategies poll up to April 1. McCain had 17 percent followed by former senator and television actor Fred Thompson, who is mulling a White House bid with 10 percent. Romney came in fourth with six percent, behind former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also thinking of running and had nine percent support.
In Iowa, Giuliani was leading the field in a Strategic Vision poll, nine months before the caucuses, with 25 percent, ahead of McCain with 20 percent. Thompson had 11 percent support. Romney had eight percent and Gingrich had six percent.
An average of several recent Iowa polls on the Republican side by independent political website Real Clear Politics had the race led by Giuliani, with 25 percent of the vote, McCain with 22 percent, Romney with 11 percent, Thompson with nine percent and Gingrich with five percent.
McCain was clinging on to a lead in New Hampshire, at 27 percent, in an average of polls taken in the state over the last month, ahead of Giuliani on 24 percent, Romney on 20 percent and Thompson on 6.3 percent.
But in a poll published last week by Zogby, Romney had rocketed into a tie to lead New Hampshire with McCain, doubling his support to 25 percent, followed by Giuliani with 19 percent.
Most of the Republican polling was however conducted before Romney shot to the top of the party’s fundraising race last week, raising more than 21 million dollars in the first three months of the year compared to Giuliani’s 15 million and McCain’s 12.5 million.
The money advantage could help Romney, who is vying to become America’s first Mormon president, increase his visibility and improve his opinion poll numbers.
Copyright Â© 2007 Agence France Presse