Elon University Poll finds Clinton, Giuliani lead pack in South Atlantic states

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New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008 continues to strengthen across the South Atlantic region of the country with more than double the support from Democrats than her closest rivals, according to the latest Elon University Poll, which surveyed residents of five southeastern states.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, is the current favorite for the Republican nomination, though a high number of undecided voters leaves the GOP race up for grabs. And the war in Iraq continues to be the most pressing issue on the public’s mind as the first presidential primary elections approach in January.

The poll, conducted Nov. 4-8 and 12-14 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 1,374 residents from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent. The sample is of the population in general and does not restrict respondents by their voter eligibility or their likelihood of voting in an election.

Respondents were split on which party to support in 2008. Thirty-five percent of respondents indicated support for the Republicans and 36 percent favored the Democrats.  Twenty-three percent of citizens are unsure of which party they will support at this time.

“Given these numbers it looks like it’s going to be a close race between the Democrats and Republicans come November,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “But for the respective party primaries, there are definite differences. In these states, Democrats have settled on a candidate while among Republicans it appears many people are still searching for a candidate.”

Of the respondents who plan to support the Democratic Party, 45 percent indicated support for Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama and John Edwards followed with 17 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Nineteen percent of Democrat supporters are undecided.

The race is much closer for the Republicans. Of the respondents who favor the Republican Party, Rudy Giuliani leads with 25 percent of their support, followed by Fred Thompson with 16 percent and Mitt Romney with 12 percent.  Twenty-nine percent of Republican supporters are currently undecided.

The survey also asked respondents about their thoughts on various public policy issues. In an open-ended question, respondents said the most important issues facing the United States are the following:

  • Iraq War: 31 percent
  • Economy: 13 percent
  • Terrorism and security: 11 percent
  • Health care costs: 8 percent
  • Immigration: 8 percent

“Not surprisingly, the Iraq War continues to be the most prevalent issue among citizens,” Bacot said. “What will be interesting to see is whether the issue burdens Republicans like it did in the midterm elections, particularly in light of two competing issues – health care and the economy – that tend to favor Democrats.”

When considering what issues will influence their vote for president, respondents provided the following answers:

  • Iraq War: 83 percent
  • Health care costs: 81 percent
  • Economy: 80 percent
  • Immigration: 75 percent
  • Taxes: 74 percent
  • Family values: 68 percent
  • Political corruption: 67 percent
  • Education: 65 percent
  • Transportation: 34 percent

The non-partisan Elon University Poll conducts frequent scientific telephone polls on issues of importance to citizens. The poll results are shared with media, citizens and researchers to facilitate representative democracy and public policy making through the better understanding of the opinions and needs of citizens in the state and region.