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LA Times Poll Shows Clinton, Romney Leading the Pack in IA

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In the first LA Times / Bloomberg poll of likely Iowa caucus voters, Hillary Clinton maintains her lead over John Edwards while failing to reach the 30 percent mark; meanwhile, Mitt Romney continues to enjoy a double-digit lead over his chief rivals. The poll was conducted September 6-10 of 462 likely Democratic caucus voters and 350 likely Republican caucus voters.

Clinton received 28 percent support in the new poll, followed by Edwards at 23 percent, Barack Obama at 19 percent, Bill Richardson at 10 percent, Joe Biden at 2 percent, Dennis Kucinich at 2 percent, and Chris Dodd at 1 percent. Fifteen percent were not sure who would get their vote.

When asked which candidate has new ideas, Obama led the way with 35 percent, followed by Clinton (19 percent), and Edwards (11 percent). However, Edwards was viewed as the most likeable (31 percent), followed by Obama (28 percent), and Clinton (20 percent). Clinton trounced the field when Iowa Democratic caucus voters were asked who had the right experience for the presidency—49 percent indicated Clinton, with just 15 percent for Edwards, 10 percent for Richardson, and only 7 percent for Obama.

Clinton also received the highest marks for being the best candidate in the Democratic field to fight terrorism and ending the war in Iraq—earning twice the support as any other candidate.

On the Republican side, Romney earned the nod of 28 percent of likely Republican caucus voters, followed by Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson each at 16 percent, Mike Huckabee at 8 percent, John McCain at 7 percent, Tom Tancredo at 3 percent, Ron Paul at 2 percent, Sam Brownback at 2 percent, and Duncan Hunter at 1 percent. Seventeen percent were undecided. Romney has led by double-digits in every public poll taken in Iowa since August 2007.

Romney also edged Giuliani in the eyes of Iowa Republican caucus voters on several key issues and character traits: leading the former New York City mayor 23-21 percent in terms of strength of leadership, 20-14 percent in terms of who would best handle social issues like abortion and gay rights, and 25-10 percent in keeping taxes low (Thompson came in second on the tax issue with 13 percent).

John McCain was viewed as the best candidate to handle the war in Iraq (24 percent), followed by Giuliani (21 percent), and Romney (13 percent). Giuliani was viewed as the best to fight terrorism and protect national security (25 percent), followed by McCain (19 percent), and Thompson (9 percent).

In perhaps the most interesting finding of the poll 48 percent of GOP caucus voters felt the country needed a new direction, while just 44 percent felt the nation should continue the policies of President Bush.

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