Romney, Clinton lead Michigan poll

GOP voters believe McCain is more electable, unifying and able to bring about change, the poll showed. But respondents like Romney more for his leadership style, understanding of voters and ability to convey hope for the future.

Huckabee is a favorite among GOP voters motivated by faith. Thirty-eight percent said it matters if the next president is a devout Christian, the highest number among attributes.

Among that 38%, Huckabee leads Romney by a small margin. Voters who identify themselves as evangelical comprise 29% of the Republican primary vote and they favor Huckabee almost 2-1 over Romney.

For the Democrats, the question remains whether Clinton can claim a decisive victory if her margin in the poll holds up. The other question is whether the Democratic primary demonstrates much of anything, since none of the candidates, including Clinton, have campaigned here.

Obama and Edwards, along with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, who both have dropped out of the race, removed their names from Michigan's ballot in October after Michigan moved its primary to Jan. 15.

Clinton, along with Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, former congressman Mike Gravel of Alaska and Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd kept their names on the ballot, but only Kucinich is campaigning in Michigan. Dodd dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses.

University of New Hampshire associate political science professor Dante Scala said any showing of less than 40% would be viewed as an embarrassment for Clinton.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., echoed that assessment.

"I'd like her to do as well or better than she did in New Hampshire," where Clinton received 39% of the vote, Stabenow said Saturday at a Clinton rally.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Saturday that any suggestions that Clinton has to get 60% or risk looking like a loser are ridiculous.

"She doesn't have that much in any other state," Granholm said. "And she's not uncommitted to Michigan as apparently the other candidates are."

When asked to choose one or two issues that helped decide how to vote, the economy was the most pressing issue (48%) for Democratic voters naming a candidate. The war in Iraq received 39% and health care got 35%.

Contributing: Kathleen Gray and Tina Lam, Detroit Free Press. The Detroit Free Press and USA TODAY are owned by Gannett.

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