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Iowa Poll Puts Huckabee and Obama Out Front

Mike Huckabee on the campaign trail in New Hampshire on Saturday. Can he convert his lead in Iowa to a lead in the Granite State? (AP).

A poll released by the Des Moines Register confirmed the shift in the presidential race over the last month, as Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is ahead of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). And in an even more surprising result, former Gov. Mike Huckabee has vaulted ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, long the leader among the Republicans.

The leads for Obama and Huckabee remain small, particularly given the four percent margin of error. The poll placed Obama at 28 percent, Clinton at 25 percent, and former North Carolina senator John Edwards at 23 percent, meaning that depending on how effectively they turn out voters, any of them could win. The GOP race appears a two-man contest with Huckabee at 29 percent, Romney at 24 percent and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani at 13 percent.

The polls show what's happening in the campaign, as Clinton, who had long sought to rise above the fray, is attacking Obama more frequently, and Romney is slamming Huckabee for tax increases during his days as governor.

For Obama, the polls results have one potential worrisome trend. According to the Register, Obama dominates among younger caucus-goers, with support from 48 percent of those younger than 35, compared to 19 percent for Clinton and 17 percent for Edwards.

The under-35 bloc represents 14 percent of Democratic caucus-goers, according to the poll. Clinton is the top choice among caucus-goers 55 and older. Older people generally show up and are considered more reliable than younger and first-time caucus-goers, another group that Obama leads. At the same time, Obama also leads among those who say they will definitely attend the caucuses.

For Clinton, the poll showed her strength among women has slipped. Obama is supported by 31 percent of women polled who are likely to attend the caucuses, compared to 26 percent for Clinton.

For the Republicans, the poll suggests Huckabee is performing strongly based on two factors: Social conservatives favor him, and he's ranked as the "most principled" of the candidates.

Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, is leading Romney 38 percent to 22 percent among those who consider themselves "born-again Christians." In October, Romney edged Huckabee 23 percent to 18 percent among people in that group, which accounts for half of all likely caucus participants, according to the Register.

He's leading even though Iowa Republicans rank Romney as the "most presidential" and most "fiscally conservative" and the "best able to bring about real change."

The numbers suggest that Clinton and Giuliani, the two leading candidates in national polls, have some significant challenges here. Iowa voters are not choosing the two, even though voters say Giuliani and Clinton are the "most electable" in their respective fields. Giuliani is effectively tied with Romney, with 30 percent of voters calling the former mayor the most electable, compared to 28 percent for Romney and 13 percent for Huckabee.

Thirty-four percent of Democrats say Clinton is the most electable, compared to 26 percent for Obama. At the same time, 52 percent of Democrats said Clinton is the most "ego-driven" of their candidates and 36 percent of Republicans said the same of Giuliani.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

By Editors  |  December 2, 2007; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Barack Obama , Candidates , Mike Huckabee  
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