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New LAT Poll: The also-rans are also running

December 27, 2007 |  9:04 pm

Much of the attention focused on new polls, like today's Times/Bloomberg poll, centers on the front-runners as people try to read into their numbers predictions about the ultimate winners come Jan. 3 in Iowa and Jan. 8 in New Hampshire.

Those new front-runner numbers can be found here. Basically, they show among Democrats that Barack Obama has erased Hillary Clinton's once commanding lead in New Hampshire and the two of them plus John Edwards are in a three-way statistical tie in Iowa. Among Republicans, the new numbers show that Mike Huckabee has erased Mitt Romney's long-running, hard-bought lead in Iowa and opened his own 14-point advantage.

But in New Hampshire, where evangelicals are much fewer, Huckabee is way back at 9% while Romney leads with 34%, a surging John McCain is second at 21%, up from 12% in September, and Rudy Giuliani in third with 15%.

Though usually overlooked, the polling question is not, "Who will you vote for on Jan. X?" It's something like, "If the voting was today, who would you vote for?" So today's poll (actually Dec. 20-23 and 26 with more than 3,400 people in both states) is a current snapshot, which offers at least some hope to also-rans way back in the pack. How are they doing?

Among Iowa Democrats, Sen. Joe Biden got 6% among likely Democratic voters and 4% among Democrats. Bill Richardson got 7% among likely voters and 6% among Democrats. Dennis Kucinich got  2% among likely voters and Democrats and Chris Dodd received half that support -- 1% -- in both categories.

In New Hampshire, Biden and Kucinich both got 2% among Democrats and 1% among likely voters while Richardson received 5% among Democrats and 4% among likely voters. Dodd, who's focused entirely on Iowa by literally moving there, got 0% in both categories.

Among Iowa Republicans, Fred Thompson got 11% among Republicans and 10% among likely voters. Ron Paul received 2% among Republicans and 1% among likely voters while Duncan Hunter got 1% among Republicans and 2% among likely voters. Don't Know scored 9% among Republicans and 7% among likely voters.

In New Hampshire, Dr. Paul did best of this sub-group scoring 4% among Republicans and 6% among likely voters, better than the better-known Thompson at 4% and 4%. Hunter got 1% and 1% while Don't Know was 11% among Republicans and 8% among likely voters. Paul's fervent supporters, who've donated nearly $19 million this quarter alone, are counting on under-reporting of their numbers to produce a primary surprise, possibly in New Hampshire.

One other set of interesting numbers, the voters' decisions seem to be hardening with more than 71% of Iowa Republicans and 57% of New Hampshire Republicans certain of their vote now. Among Iowa Democrats, 71% are now certain of their vote while in New Hampshire the certainty factor is 65%. The new poll's complete data base is here.

One other statistical certainty: All of these numbers will change before the votes get counted.

--Andrew Malcolm