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Poll: As Thompson's star fades, Clinton's on the rise

  • Story Highlights
  • GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson dropped 8 points from September
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton now has a majority of Democrats polled supporting her
  • Rudy Giuliani continues to lead Republican presidential field
  • Clinton leads Giuliani by 2 percentage points in poll matchup
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From Bill Schneider
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fred Thompson got into the Republican race with great expectations. And sure enough, just after he got in last month, polling showed Thompson and Rudy Giuliani were just about tied for front-runner.

Fred Thompson's support in the polls has slipped.

But since then, Thompson's taken a lot of flak for a lackluster campaign from party activists in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Support for his campaign has also wavered. The new CNN poll by the Opinion Research Corporation released Tuesday shows Thompson's support dropping -- now at 19 percent, down from 27 percent in September.

He's now running second, slightly ahead of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who has 17 percent. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, still leads with 27 percent.

Of the remaining Republican presidential candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney received support from 13 percent of the Republicans polled, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee received 5 percent, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California received 3 percent, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas received 2 percent, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas received 1 percent and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado received 1 percent.

The poll's margin of error for the Republican race is plus or minus 5 percentage points.Video Watch what the polls reveal »

On the Democratic side, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York continues to gain support and build on her lead. She led Sen. Barack Obama by 23 points last month -- 46 percent to 23 percent. She now leads the Illinois senator by 30 points -- 51 percent to 21 percent.

Of the remaining Democratic presidential candidates, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards received support from 15 percent of the Democrats polled, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson received 4 percent, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware received 1 percent, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut received 1 percent, former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel received 1 percent and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio received 1 percent.

On this question, former Vice President Al Gore was not included as a candidate.

The margin of error for the Democratic poll was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The poll, conducted by telephone on October 12-14, involved interviews with 1,212 adults, including 485 registered voters who describe themselves as Democrats or as Independents who lean Democratic, and 374 registered voters who describe themselves as Republicans or as Independents who lean Republican.

A majority of Democrats favor Clinton, whereas fewer than a third of Republicans favor their front-runner, Giuliani.

Now that Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize, there doesn't appear to be a surge of support for him to make a run. Gore came in third among Democrats, at 14 percent -- about the same as last month -- when included in the poll as a potential candidate.

Expectations are building fast. Nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, of those polled expect Clinton to be the Democratic nominee. That's four times more than those who expect Obama to be the nominee.

Of those polled, who do they expect to win the Republican nomination? Half chose Giuliani. That's nearly four to one over John McCain.

And who do voters expect to win the election? Clinton was chosen by 45 percent. Only 16 percent expect Giuliani to get elected. Nobody else gets more than 10 percent.

Now it's Clinton who faces great expectations. Here's one reason: Asked if they would vote for the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate for president, voters prefer the Democrat by 13 points.

But when the two front-runners are pitted against each other, Clinton leads Giuliani by just two percentage points, 49 percent to 47 percent, a statistical tie.

The poll's margin of error for general election questions is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Why would a Clinton-Giuliani matchup be so close? Mainly because Giuliani does eight points better than a generic Republican.


The race between Clinton and Giuliani is close, not because Clinton is weak, but because Giuliani gets a lot more support from moderate and independent voters than a generic Republican candidate.

That's the irony. Giuliani is trying to sound more and more like a typical Republican to get the nomination. But voters don't see him as a typical Republican. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Barack ObamaHillary ClintonJohn McCainFred ThompsonRudolph Giuliani

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