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McCain Leading in Clean Sweep of 3 Early Primary States

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Despite lukewarm performances at the first two GOP debates and a national campaign that appears to be lagging well behind Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Senator John McCain continues to lead the Republican frontrunner in new polls released by American Research Group (ARG) in 3 key states: Iowa (caucus = January 14), New Hampshire (primary = January 22), and South Carolina (primary = January 29).

Giuliani leads McCain in all national surveys, including double digit leads in the latest polls by New York Times / CBS News, Zogby, and Rasmussen (in which McCain also trails Mitt Romney).

Still, McCain is polling as the frontrunner in 3 smaller, though important, states. If McCain runs the table on these, it could give him momentum to become competitive heading into February 5th—in which up to 20 states hold primary contests.

McCain now holds a 25—23 lead over Giuliani in Iowa, and has been tied or held the lead in each of the last 3 ARG polls in that state. Romney comes in third at 16 percent, and his support has increased in each of the last four polls there (from 8 to 10 to 14 to 16 percent).

In New Hampshire, McCain leads Giuliani by 9 points (30—21), with Romney landing in second at 23 percent. McCain has polled ahead of Giuliani in 5 of the last 6 ARG polls in the Granite State.

In South Carolina, McCain continues to lead Giuliani (32 percent to 23 percent), with Romney in fourth (at 10 percent) behind Fred Thompson (13 percent). McCain has lead Giuliani in all 4 ARG polls in South Carolina dating back to December 2006.

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