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Poll: Liberals moving toward Clinton; GOP race tightens

Bill Schneider
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Are the races for the nominations tightening up? The answer is yes and no.

Republicans are supposed to be the party of orderly succession. Democratic races are often wide-open contests among little-known contenders. This time it's the other way around.

Republicans have 10 declared candidates. But nobody's pulling ahead. (Interactive: Complete poll results)

The new CNN Poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation shows a tightening race nationally, with Rudy Giuliani and John McCain running neck-and-neck.

Asked whom they would most likely support for the Republican nomination, 25 percent of people who identified themselves as Republicans or leaning Republican cited the former mayor of New York and 23 percent cited the senator from Arizona. (Poll results document -- PDF)

Giuliani's lead has been slipping since March, when he led McCain by nearly 20 points.

At first, senator turned actor Fred Thompson's show of interest cut into Giuliani's support because they both have celebrity appeal. In the latest poll, Thompson received 13 percent of the vote. (Watch how the GOP is trying to shape its post-Bush future Video)

But things have not improved for Giuliani. His debate performance, when he was asked how he would feel about repealing Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S., raised a lot of questions.

"It would be OK to repeal," Giuliani said at the first Republican debate. "Or it would be OK also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney received 10 percent. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee got 3 percent. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback got 2 percent. Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, California Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had 1 percent.

Liberal support fueling Clinton's gains

Among Democrats, frontrunner New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is gaining support. Last month, she led Sen. Barack Obama by 8 points. Now she earned 38 percent support versus 24 percent who said they favor her rival from Illinois.

Where are Clinton's gains coming from?

From women and also from liberals. Last month, Clinton and Obama were just about tied among Democrats who call themselves liberal. Now, Clinton has forged 20 points ahead. Her strong position against the Iraq war seems to have convinced liberals she is with them.

"It is time to sunset the authorization for the war in Iraq," Clinton said. "If the president will not accept reality, it is time for Congress to bring reality to him.

This time, Democrats are happy with their choices. Thirty-eight percent say they are very satisfied with the field. Only 20 percent of Republicans feel that way.

There is one constituency were Obama has been growing stronger: College-educated Democrats. Obama has a strong lead over Clinton in that constituency, which tends to be more independent and reform-minded.

The poll shows the other candidates trailing the two frontrunners. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina received 12 percent and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson got 5 percent. Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware had 2 percent, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut got 2 percent and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio had 1 percent. Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel had less than 0.5 percent. Six percent of Democrats said they had no opinion.

For the Democrats, the poll has a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4.5 points and for the Republicans, it has a sampling error of plus-or-minus 5 points.

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Support from liberals has allowed Sen. Hillary Clinton to open up her lead in the race for the Democrats' 2008 presidential nomination, the latest CNN poll found.

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