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CBS Poll: Giuliani, Clinton Pad Leads

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has widened his lead over Arizona Sen. John McCain in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to the latest CBS News poll.

On the Democratic side, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has increased her lead over her nearest rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

In a head-to-head matchup, Giuliani's lead over McCain is now 23 points, 52 percent to 29 percent, which equals its February level. A month ago, Giuliani's advantage was down to 9 points.

With former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney added to the mix, Giuliani comes in at 47 percent, followed by McCain at 25 percent and Romney at 10 percent.

(Among Republican Primary Voters)

47 percent
25 percent
10 percent
13 percent

Republican primary voters have favorable views of all three of their leading candidates. But Giuliani and McCain's unfavorable ratings among all voters have risen since last month.

While McCain's outspoken support for the surge of U.S. troops may have hurt his overall standing with the American public, it's a net positive for him among Republican primary voters. These voters strongly support the war, and six in 10 of them believe, like McCain, that the surge is working.

CBS News polls: The 2008 Campaign and The War in Iraq
Republican primary voters are much more likely than the nation's voters as a whole to say they care about candidates' personal lives as well as their political records. But asked about two personal issues that concern the GOP candidates — multiple marriages (Giuliani has been married three times) and age (McCain is 70) — most Republican primary voters said these issues would not affect their vote.

Regardless of whom they support, GOP primary voters are most likely to think Giuliani will be the party's eventual nominee.

Meanwhile, Democratic primary voters continue to favor Clinton and expect her to be the party's nominee.

In a three-way contest, Clinton leads Obama by 15 points and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards by 18. Last month, Clinton's lead over Obama was 8 points.

(Among Republican Primary Voters)

39 percent
24 percent
21 percent

However, Clinton remains a polarizing figure. She is the only one of the top three Democratic contenders who gets a negative assessment from all registered voters.

Both Obama and Edwards are more liked than disliked, although many still have no opinion about them. Edwards appears to have gained a bit in overall favorability since last month. Americans overwhelmingly said Edwards' decision to stay in the race after learning of his wife's cancer recurrence had not changed their feelings about him.

Opinions about Obama have become slightly less positive among Democratic voters in recent weeks.

Democratic voters are generally happier with the current field of candidates than Republicans — and the differences between the parties on this question are growing. Roughly six in 10 Democrats now say they're content with their choices, while six in 10 Republicans are not.


Republican Primary Voters
35 percent
Want more choices
61 percent

Democratic Primary Voters
59 percent
Want more choices
36 percent

That's a reversal from past elections, when Democrats tended to be less satisfied than Republicans with their options.

While many Republicans who plan to vote in a primary or caucus want more choices, most are unable to name a specific candidate they'd like to see run. Eleven percent of those who'd like more choices want to see former senator (and current Law & Order actor) Fred Thompson run, while 8 percent mentioned former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Thompson remains relatively unknown among Republican primary voters. Nearly eight in 10 say they're undecided or haven't heard enough about him. Twenty-one percent have a favorable view of him and none have a negative view.

Gingrich, on the other hand, is well known. Thirty-three percent of GOP voters have a favorable view of him, while 25 percent have an unfavorable view.

Among the relatively small number of Democrats who want more candidate choices, most also cannot name someone specific they'd like to get into the race. Those who were mentioned most often include former presidential candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley, and even former President Bill Clinton, who is ineligible to run again.

A separate CBS News poll found most Americans agree with the Democrats in Congress that the U.S. should set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sometime next year.

At the same time, a majority believe the political stalemate between the White House and Congress over a war funding bill is having a negative impact on the morale of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Republicans remain optimistic about the president's deployment of additional troops to Iraq and about the prospects for success there. However, Americans overall continue to believe that the war is going badly, that the troop increase is not helping and that the prospects for success in Iraq are dim.

A record number cite the war as the country's most important problem.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 994 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 9-12, 2007. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

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