Thursday, January 24, 2008

Clinton, McCain lead in latest poll

US Senator Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain lead the latest national poll of US voters, boosting their frontrunner credentials in the race to become the Democratic and Republican candidates for President. The survey, conducted by Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News, shows Ms Clinton with a nine-point lead over fellow Democrat Barack Obama, but her lead has shrunk from 24 points in the last Times/Bloomberg poll, in early December. In the poll, released late on Wednesday, New York Senator and former First Lady of US, Ms Clinton was first among Democrats with 42 per cent, Illinois Senator Obama was second with 33 per cent and former Senator John Edwards was third with 11.

However, the poll also found that about two-thirds of Democratic voters now say they are “certain” about who they will vote for, making last minute changes less likely, the Los Angeles Times said in its analysis of the numbers. And should Mr Edwards drop out — he has not won any primaries thus far — his supporters were more likely to defect to Ms Clinton than Mr Obama, the poll found. The margin of error for the Democrats was plus or minus three percentage points. The poll was conducted January 18 to 22 among 1,541 adults.

Meanwhile, Senator John McCain led the Republican field with 22 per cent, followed by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (18 per cent), former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (17 per cent), and former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani (12 per cent). The margin of error for the poll’s Republican figures was plus or minus five percentage points, blurring the distinction between the top three Republicans. But the numbers were grim for Mr Giuliani, who was the national frontrunner in every earlier edition of this poll.

The Republican race is too close to call, leading into the high-stakes January 29 Florida primary with its rich prize of 57 winner-take-all delegates to the Republican National Convention in September. A poll of Florida voters on Wednesday showed Mr McCain with 25 per cent heading into Tuesday’s primary, and statistically tied with Mr Romney on 23 per cent. Mr Giuliani, who is staking his presidential campaign on Florida after all but ignoring the early nominating contests, trailed on just 15 per cent, alongside Mr Huckabee, in the St. Petersburg Times poll.