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Poll: Clinton has large lead in Nevada prior to debate

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Clinton top pick of 51 percent of likely Nevada caucus-goers
  • Front-runner leads Sen. Barack Obama by 28 points in Nevada
  • Nearly two-thirds view Clinton as most electable
  • Less than half of likely Nevada caucus-goers view her as the most honest or likeable
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton has a large lead over her rivals among Nevada Democratic caucus-goers, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday.

Nevada Democratic caucus-goers view Sen. Hillary Clinton as the most electable candidate.

The New York Democrat is the top pick of over half, 51 percent, of the likely caucus participants interviewed for the poll. Her closest rival, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, was the choice of 23 percent. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina came in at 11 percent.

All other candidates came in at single digits: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, 5 percent; Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, 4 percent; former Sen. Mike Gravel at 1 percent and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich at 1 percent.

Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut received less than one percent. View the poll results »

The poll was released just one day before a CNN debate with the Democratic presidential candidates in Las Vegas, Nevada. The debate will begin at 8 p.m. ET Thursday.

"Clinton's advantage among Democratic caucus-goers appears to be based on the perception that she is the most electable candidate and the strongest leader in the field," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

Democrats do Vegas
The Democratic candidates lay their cards on the table in Las Vegas with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
Thursday, 8 p.m. ET

Sixty-three percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers viewed her as having the best chance of beating the eventual Republican nominee, and 54 percent believe she would be the strongest leader among the Democratic nominees.

Forty-nine percent of likely Democratic Nevada caucus-goers also viewed Clinton as the one most likely to bring about change.

Clinton's stances on the issues and her likeability appear lesser factors for caucus-goers. Only 42 percent said Clinton had the clearest positions on the issues, and just 41 percent said she was the most likely to say what she believes.

Furthermore, only 40 percent said she was the most likeable, and 37 percent said she was the most honest.

"It's not mainly personal qualities that are putting Hillary Clinton over with Democrats," CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schnieder said. "It's the view that she's tough. She's experienced, and she's a winner."

On questions about the Democratic race in Nevada, the poll's margin of error is plus-or-minus 5 percent.

Democrats in the state seem to support the idea of early caucuses in Nevada, which put the state near the top of the electoral calendar, according to the poll.

Sixty-eight percent of those identifying themselves as Democrats said the January 19 caucus will be good for Nevada, and 49 percent of those identifying themselves as Republicans agreed. But 30 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of Republicans said it would make no difference.

Forty-five percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans said the early Nevada caucus would be good for the nation, but 49 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Republicans predicted it would make no difference nationally.

The sampling error for those questions is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Sixty-three percent of Nevadans responding to the poll said the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States should be decreased, and 66 percent said they oppose a plan by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to offer undocumented immigrants driver's licenses.


Spitzer said earlier Wednesday he was dropping the controversial proposal. The sampling error on the license question is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

The poll was conducted by telephone November 9-13 with 2,084 adults in Nevada, including 389 likely Democratic caucus-goers and 304 likely Republican caucus-goers. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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