The Republican nomination contest is being increasingly shaped by ideology and religion as it moves toward the Super Tuesday states on Feb. 5. John McCain has moved out to a solid lead nationally, increasing his support among Republican and GOP-leaning voters from 22% in late December to 29% currently. Mike Huckabee, at 20%, and Mitt Romney, with 17%, trail McCain. Rudy Giuliani is a distant fourth, polling just 13%. Giuliani's support has declined seven points since late December.
McCain's gains over this period have come almost entirely from moderate and liberal Republicans, among whom he now holds a two-to-one lead over his nearest rivals. The preferences of conservative Republicans are split along religious lines. Huckabee leads the field among conservative evangelicals, drawing 33% to 25% for McCain and just 12% for Romney. In the poll, conducted before the Michigan primary, Romney leads McCain and far outdistances Huckabee – and the rest of the GOP field – among non-evangelical conservative Republicans.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,515 adults, finds:
- Hillary Clinton's lead nationally has narrowed since December. Currently, Clinton leads Barack Obama by 46% to 31%, with 13% for John Edwards. In late December, Clinton's lead over Obama was 20 points (46%-26%).
- Obama now runs even with Clinton among liberals; he trailed by more than 20 points among liberal Democrats in late December. He also has made gains among African Americans and now holds a 52%-33% lead among black Democrats.
- Giuliani's support among Republicans, as well as his personal image, has declined sharply in recent months. Negative views of Giuliani among Republican voters have more than doubled since August, from 15% to 36%.
- In advance of the Michigan primary, a plurality of Republican voters (42%) viewed McCain as having the best chance to win the general election. Clinton's advantage over Obama in electability has diminished considerably since November.
Read the full report In GOP Primaries: Three Victors, Three Constituencies on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.