In a surprising twist just four days before the Iowa caucuses, John Edwards has moved ahead of rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Hawkeye state, according to a new McClatchy-MSNBC poll.
On the GOP side, Mitt Romney is back on top as Mike Huckabee's momentum and support is slowing.
“On the Democratic side, the race is about as close as it can get, but keep an eye on Edwards,” said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the survey. “Edwards has really moved up since our last poll. [Barack] Obama and Clinton have each slipped a little bit. Romney has rebounded and the Huckabee bubble may have burst. Last time, Huckabee was getting all the good press and nobody had put him under any scrutiny. ... Now he’s under the spotlight, and he’s started to wilt a little.”
Among Democrats in the Dec. 26-28 poll, according to McClatchy: Former Sen. Edwards of North Carolina has the support of 24 percent; Sen. Clinton of New York has 23 percent; Sen. Obama of Illinois has 22 percent; Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico has 12 percent; Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware has 8 percent; Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut has 2 percent; Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has 1 percent. Undecided: 8 percent. One in five Iowa Democrats say they could still change their minds.
The poll's margin of error was plus or minus five percentage points. Edwards has gained 3 percentage points since McClatchy-MSNBC polled Iowa before the holidays, while Clinton lost 4 points and Obama lost 3 points. More Iowa Democrats have a favorable impression of Edwards — and fewer have an unfavorable impression of him — than any other candidate. One in five Iowa Democrats have an unfavorable opinion of Clinton, and she ranks low among voters looking for honesty and change.
Among Republicans: Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney has 27 percent; Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee has 23 percent; Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has 14 percent; Sen. John McCain of Arizona has 13 percent; Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has 5 percent; Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has 5 percent; Rep. Duncan Hunter of California has 1 percent. Undecided: 12 percent. One in three Iowa Republicans say they could still change their minds. Huckabee’s support dropped 8 percentage points since the last McClatchy/MSNBC poll Dec. 3-6. Huckabee still ranks tops among Iowa Republicans who rank values and family issues their top concerns. Romney, who had led in the state for months before dropping to second place, regained 7 points since early December. One-third of Romney's supporters say they still could defect to a rival, while only 22 percent of Huckabee's backers say that.
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