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New L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll upcoming

October 23, 2007 | 10:32 am

A new L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll will not calm what a recent story referred to as "jitters" among some supporters of Barack Obama.

The exact numbers are not quite ready for release; for that, you can check The Times' website later today and Wednesday's print edition.  But in line with other national surveys of Democratic-leaning voters, our poll not only finds Hillary Clinton close to lapping the field but Obama being challenged by John Edwards for second place.

Obama's advisors continue to scoff at the importance of national polls, stressing that the face-off in Iowa -- which starts the nominating process -- remains much more competitive, and that the results there could instantly remake the contest.  Still, a close look at the demographic breakdown in the new poll contains only bad news for Obama.  In categories in which our survey in June found Obama holding his own -- younger voters, better-educated ones, those with higher incomes -- Clinton has pulled significantly ahead.

In the Republican race, the poll shows Rudy Giuliani with a comfortable -- but far from commanding -- lead.  In his favor: None of his rivals has established a clear hold on second place; support is scattered among Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mitt Romney, with Mike Huckabee also showing some movement.  But Giuliani's number has edged only slightly upward since June, raising questions about how much he can expand his backing within the party.

The results underscore some of the enduring mysteries of the GOP race.  Despite a record that is pro-choice, pro-gay rights and pro-gun control, Giuliani runs ahead among Republican-leaning voters who describe themselves as conservatives.  And Romney, despite a solid lead in polls in Iowa, has made no progress catching fire nationwide.

-- Don Frederick