Republican Senator John McCain has moved into the national lead for his party's nomination for the presidency, according to a poll released Wednesday on the eve of the first voting.
The Pew Research Center's nationwide survey gave McCain 22 percent support among Republican voters, two percent ahead of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had led the Republican field by a wide margin for most of 2007.
Surging into a close third was ex-Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who is leading polls to win the Republican caucuses in Iowa on Thursday, the first state to vote on candidates for the November 2008 presidential election.
In March Giuliani topped the broad Republican field nationally with 35 percent support in the Pew poll, against 24 percent for Arizona Senator McCain and only two percent for Huckabee.
And in September McCain, considered a moderate Republican was being counted out of the race when his support dropped to 16 percent and Giuliani still held 33 percent.
However, the three frontrunners still fall into the five-percent margin of error in the poll of 471 Republican voters around the country.
And polls ahead of the individual state caucuses and primaries show sharply different readings from national polls.
Among Democratic candidates nationally, Senator Hillary Clinton remains the frontrunner, Pew said, with 46 percent support, compared to Senator Barack Obama's 26 percent backing and 14 percent for ex-senator John Edwards.
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