Good poll news for Clinton, Thompson
Support from Democratic women puts Hillary Clinton in a commanding position in California, while in Nevada, Republicans are rallying behind the as-yet-unannounced Fred Thompson candidacy, according to two new polls.
The California poll, conducted by the Survey and Policy Research Institute at San Jose State University, found that among those who would vote in the Democratic presidential primary, Clinton is running far ahead, with 37%. John Edwards and Barack Obama tied for second, each with 15%.
The key for Clinton: backing by 45% of women polled (compared with 27% of men). "If Clinton keeps her grasp on women, it's not going to be much of a contest here" in the state's Feb. 5 primary, said Phil Trounstine, the research institute's director.
Among the Republicans, Rudy Giuliani led with 25%, followed by Thompson, with 16%, and John McCain, with 14%. Mitt Romney lags, with 5%, but as a Washington Post story spells out today, that won't cost him much sleep. Romeny is focusing on Iowa and New Hampshire, where all signs are that he's doing quite well.
In the Democratic race, the poll's margin of error is plus-or-minus 5.8 percentage points; in the GOP contest, it's plus-or-minus 6.3 percentage points.
The shocker in the Nevada survey is that Thompson is leading in the Republican race.
The results, compiled by the Washington-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Research company, showed the anticipated candidate was backed by 25% of those likely to participate in the GOP caucus in Jan. 19. Romney was second, with 20%, followed by Giuliani --- who had led in earlier polls, with 17%.
McCain was far behind, with 8%, which must be a particular blow for the senator from neighboring Arizona.
Among Democrats who said they planned to show up for their party's caucus, Clinton again is the clear favorite, with 39%, followed by Obama (17%) and Edwards (12%).
As in the Republican contest, the fourth-place finisher in the Democratic faceoff is probably none-to-pleased. Bill Richardson, the governor from nearby New Mexico, has been working hard in Nevada, as detailed in a recent story in the Las Vegas Sun. He's made clear that, as a Westerner, Nevada should be especially receptive to his pitch. But in the poll, he garnered only 7%.
For both the GOP and Democratic races, the margin of error for the numbers was plus-or-minus 5 percentage points.
-- Don Frederick
Photo: Sen. Hillary Clinton; Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP