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Clinton, Giuliani ahead in Alabama, recent poll finds

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — A poll released Thursday shows Sen. Hillary Clinton and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gaining support in Alabama with 11 months to go before the state's presidential primary.

Among likely Democratic voters, Clinton was favored by 35 percent to 19 percent for Sen. Barack Obama, 9 percent for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, and 8 percent for former Vice President Al Gore. Eight percent favored other candidates, and 21 percent were undecided.

Among likely Republican voters, Giuliani polled 28 percent, Arizona Sen. John McCain 23 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 18 percent, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee each with 3 percent. Two percent favored others, and 23 percent were undecided in the poll by the Capital Survey Research Center, the polling arm of the Alabama Education Association.

January poll

Poll director Gerald Johnson did a similar survey in mid-January and found McCain with 24 percent and Giuliani with 20 percent. But that was when McCain was enjoying favorable publicity from attending Gov. Bob Riley's inauguration.

Since then, Giuliani has kicked off his presidential campaign and has risen in national polls, as well as the one in Alabama, Johnson said.

"He's the nation's mayor. In spite of the social issues, he shows vigor and vitality," while McCain has appeared tired lately, he said.

Johnson said there is no indication Romney got any boost from his campaign visit to Alabama on Feb. 9.

In Johnson's mid-January survey, he found Clinton with 27 percent and Obama with 19 percent. Speculating about Clinton's improvement in the new poll, Johnson said President Clinton's popularity among Democratic voters in Alabama appears to be rubbing off on his wife.

Selma appearance

The Clintons and Obama attended Selma's voting rights celebration last Sunday, and the poll, which was completed after that appearance, indicated Sen. Clinton benefited more from it than Obama, Johnson said.

In the new poll, Clinton led among black voters. The only group where Obama finished first was among those ages 18-24.

The longtime Alabama pollster said the only surprise in the two surveys is the continuing inability of Edwards, a Southerner and former vice presidential nominee, to catch on with Democrats in Alabama.

The statewide poll was conducted Feb. 19-22, Feb. 28 and March 6. It had a sampling error margin of 5 percentage points.

Alabama will be among the earliest states conducting presidential primaries in 2008, with the date now set for Feb. 5.

Legislative leaders and officials of the two major parties had discussed trying to move it even earlier to Feb. 2 because Feb. 5 falls on the Mardi Gras holiday in Mobile and Baldwin counties. But if Alabama went any earlier, the state faced sanctions from the two national political parties.

Now legislative leaders said they will leave the primary on Feb. 5, and they are discussing voting alternatives for the two coastal counties, such as early voting.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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