Clinton Takes Lead for Democrats

Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney are favorite among likely caucus voters

ByABC News
October 7, 2007, 7:55 AM

October 7, 2007— -- Hillary Clinton has climbed into first place in a new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans expected to participate in the state's Democratic presidential caucuses, with John Edwards and Barack Obama both in striking distance.

The Iowa Poll shows 29 percent of likely caucusgoers preferring Clinton, a New York senator, an improvement from the Register's most recent poll in May.

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, was the choice of 23 percent in the new poll, slipping from the top spot since the May survey to nearly even with Obama.

Obama, an Illinois senator, was at 22 percent , virtually unchanged from May.

Clinton's gain comes after a summer of campaigning in Iowa that included two trips with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and major policy speeches about Iraq and health care.

The new poll also shows Clinton picking up support while Edwards and Obama have sharpened their criticism of her.

The poll shows all other candidates falling farther behind the top three, despite regular Iowa campaigning by several of the others.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was in fourth place as the choice of 8 percent, down slightly from May. Delaware Sen. Joe Biden was in fifth with 5 percent, up slightly. All others had support from 1 percent or less.

The telephone survey of 399 likely Democratic caucusgoers was conducted Oct. 1-3, roughly three months before the Iowa caucuses are expected to begin the series of state nominating contests.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Presidential preferences include people leaning toward supporting a candidate. Eleven percent said they were uncommitted or unsure about whom to support.

The poll's findings are in line with Iowa polls in the past month which have shown Clinton overtaking Edwards, who finished second in the 2004 caucuses and had led in Iowa polls earlier this year.

Clinton trailed Edwards by 8 percentage points and was neck-and-neck with Obama in the Register's May poll.

Since then, she has expanded her campaign organization and joined her opponents in advertising on television in Iowa.