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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 3:16 a.m., Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Clinton clear leader over Obama in Minnesota poll

By Bob Von Sternberg
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

MINNEAPOLIS — By more than 2 to 1, Minnesota Democrats overwhelmingly prefer Hillary Rodham Clinton for their party's 2008 presidential nomination, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

But among the state's Republicans, who will host next year's GOP national convention, the presidential race remains close and far from decided as it heads into a wild three-month sprint leading to the nation's first caucuses and primaries.

The unpopular war in Iraq remains the most pressing issue in presidential politics for Minnesotans, especially Democrats, but the economy and health care also are on their minds. For Republicans, but not Democrats, immigration concerns will figure prominently in the race.

Among Democrats, Clinton has 47 percent support.

Clinton's 47 percent number is comparable to recent national polls that have shown her widening her lead over her closest rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. In Minnesota, Obama was supported by 22 percent of Democrats. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is in third place, with 16 percent support.

Of the GOP's candidates, the poll found that Arizona Sen. John McCain shows surprising strength in Minnesota that he no longer enjoys elsewhere, even though he has rebounded slightly in some early voting states.

And McCain's resilience in the state is accompanied by weakness on the part of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who the poll shows is lagging far behind McCain, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the national front-runner.

And, as is the case nationally, all of the other candidates in both parties trail the front-runners distantly.

The poll interviewed 802 Minnesotans ages 18 and older Sept. 18-23. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 9 percentage points among Republicans and 8 percentage points among Democrats.

In the Democratic race, Clinton is as dominant in Minnesota as she is nationwide, supported by 47 percent of Democrats and independents who lean toward the party.

"She's got a lot of good ideas, and since men have screwed up the country so much, why not give a woman a chance," said Aaron Deris, a special-education teacher. "I think the country is more ready to elect a woman than a black man."

Obama, whose presidential candidacy has become the most credible ever mounted by an African-American, received 22 percent support in the poll.

It isn't possible to measure in a statistically reliable way candidates' support by racial group because the sample sizes for the subgroups involved become too small.

But Obama's support is strongest among younger respondents, dropping off sharply among the oldest.

That doesn't surprise Carolyn Hamilton, an Obama supporter. "Older people just aren't ready for him, and I'm not sure the United States is, either," she said. "He'd be such a role model for black young people — for all young people. Until he came along, I never cared for politics."