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Poll: Electability drives Giuliani lead in Nevada

  • Story Highlights
  • Rudy Giuliani top choice of likely Nevada Republican caucus goers, poll found
  • Former New York City mayor viewed as most electable candidate
  • Giuliani leading most national polls
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading in Iowa, New Hampshire
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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- Now that the Democrats are done debating in Las Vegas, it's time for the next act. Bring on the elephants.

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Rudy Giuliani campaigns in Henderson, Nevada.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll of likely Nevada Republican caucus goers shows Rudy Giuliani in first place as a presidential nominee.

The former New York City mayor was the first choice of 29 percent in the survey out Friday.

Giuliani was campaigning in the Silver State earlier this week and said that "we want to make sure that we give ourselves every chance to win Nevada."

Mitt Romney, who's campaigning Friday in Las Vegas, is in second place, at 21 percent. The former Massachusetts governor is followed by Fred Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, with 14 percent and Sen. John McCain of Arizona at 12 percent.

The remaining GOP presidential candidates are all in single digits: Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 8 percent; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 4 percent; California Rep. Duncan Hunter, 4 percent; and Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, 3 percent. Check out the results of some key questions »

Giuliani's on top in Nevada because Republicans here think he's the most electable. Sixty percent of those questioned in the survey said Giuliani has the best chance among the GOP White House hopefuls of beating the Democratic presidential nominee.

Giuliani also comes in first when asked who's the most qualified candidate to be commander in chief and the most likely to bring change, the candidate who's taken the most clear position on the issues, the candidate who says what he believes, and the strongest leader.

Romney leads in only one category in the survey -- honesty -- with Giuliani second.

But Iowa Republicans vote 15 days ahead of Nevada.

Romney is on top in the latest polls out of the Hawkeye state, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee breathing down his neck. "We are serious. We are here to stay and we are here to play," Huckabee said.

And what about Giuliani? He comes in third in most of the recent polls in Iowa.

What about New Hampshire Republicans? They're kind of important, since their state holds the first primary.

Romney has a bigger lead there in the latest surveys. He was governor of neighboring Massachusetts.

And among Republicans nationally?

It's Giuliani first in all the polls, with all the other contenders bunched together behind him.

But with only 28 percent support in a poll of all the most recent national surveys, Giuliani is not exactly a formidable front-runner less than two months before the primaries.

One thing Giuliani does have going for him across the country, as in Nevada, is electability.

In Iowa, where Giuliani's running third, he's still considered the most electable Republican.

It's the same story in New Hampshire. Romney leads, but Giuliani's seen as most electable.

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Before Republicans agree on who they want, they have to decide what they want. The most electable candidate or someone they may agree with more.

The poll was conducted from November 9-13 among 304 likely Republican caucus goers by telephone The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Bill Schneider contributed to this report.

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