Huckabee leaps into second place in national poll - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Huckabee leaps into second place in national poll

UNDATED (AP) - Mike Huckabee has vaulted from nowhere into second place in the Republican presidential race. A new poll released today shows Huckabee is riding a burst of support from evangelicals, Southerners and conservatives.

The national survey by The Associated Press and Ipsos shows the surge by the former Arkansas governor has come largely at the expense of Fred Thompson.

Support for Thompson has dropped after failing to galvanize the party's right-wing core as much as some had expected.

Rudy Giuliani remains the front-runner, yet while his support long has been steady it shows signs of fraying. The poll shows Huckabee's growing strength in the South has come as the former New York mayor's support there has dropped.

Huckabee says he is gaining ground because he is conservative, but also because he appeals to a broader set of voters.

The poll shows Giuliani at 26 percent among Republican and GOP-leaning voters, about where he has been since spring. Huckabee has 18 percent, 8 percentage points more than in an AP-Ipsos survey a month ago.

That put Huckabee in a virtual tie for second with Arizona Senator John McCain, who had 13 percent. Also close were Mitt Romney with 12 percent and Thompson with 11 percent.

Huckabee's ascent in the national poll echoed his upswing in Iowa, whose January 3rd nominating caucuses will be the first votes in the 2008 presidential campaign. A recent AP-Pew Research Center poll showed Huckabee in a virtual tie there with Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. Huckabee trails significantly in New Hampshire and South Carolina, two other important states that vote early next year.

The AP-Ipsos poll shows Huckabee now has the support of 25 percent of white evangelical voters, 23 percent of conservatives and 28 percent of Southerners. That is a solid increase in each of those areas since November, and a lead or share of the lead in each category.       Evangelicals represent about four in 10 GOP voters nationally, according to the new AP-Ipsos survey. That makes them a crucial Republican constituency, though it also underscores why the more moderate Giuliani remains a strong contender.

Despite Huckabee's strength with evangelical voters, he has had a tougher time building support among less religious Republicans. He had the support of only 14 percent of non-evangelicals in the survey, compared to Giuliani's 31 percent.

The Democratic race showed virtually no change nationally from last month, even though a recent AP-Pew poll showed a three-way battle in Iowa. In the new AP-Ipsos national survey, Hillary Rodham Clinton has about a 2-to-1 lead over Barack Obama, 45 percent to 23 percent, with John Edwards at 12 percent.

The poll involved telephone interviews with 1,009 adults nationally and was conducted from Dec. 3-5. It had an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Included were interviews with 469 Democrats and people leaning Democratic with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, and 376 Republicans and GOP leaners with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.


(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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