In GOP Primaries: Three Victors, Three Constituencies

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.

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