U.S. News

Giuliani, Clinton Extend Leads in Presidential Race: NBC/WSJ Poll

John Harwood

Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton have both strengthened their leads in the Republican and Democratic presidential nomination races, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

After a period of decline earlier in the year, Mr. Giuliani’s support ticked up to 33%, up from 29% in June. That modestly lengthened the former New York City Mayor’s lead over former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee. Mr. Thompson, who hasn’t formally entered the race, drew the same 20% as in the June NBC/WSJ survey.

Notwithstanding his struggles with campaign staff and fund-raising, Sen. John McCain of Arizona also slightly expanded his support to 17%, up from 14% in June. Though former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts now leads the Republican field in the critical early states of both Iowa and New Hampshire, his support fell to 11% from 14%. of Massachusetts fell to 11% from 14%.

The telephone survey of 1,005 adults, conducted July 27-30, carries a margin for error of 3.1 percentage points.

Mrs. Clinton has lengthened her lead over Democratic rivals, now drawing 43% to 22% for Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and 13% for former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. In June, the New York senator and former First Lady drew 39% to 25% for Mr. Obama and 15% for Mr. Edwards.

Yet the survey shows that both top Democrats would defeat Mr. Giuliani in a general election under current circumstances. Mr. Obama would win by 45% to 40%, the poll shows, while Mrs. Clinton would win by 47% to 41%. Even if current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were to run as an independent, Mrs. Clinton would win by 42% to 34%, with 11% for Mr. Bloomberg.

One key factor in Democrats’ current strength: negative attitudes about Mr. Bush’s leadership of the Iraq war. Indeed, the poll shows that for the first time since 9/11, a plurality of Americans say the U.S. is less safe than before the terrorist attacks. Some 37% of Americans feel that way, compared to 34% who say the U.S. is more safe and 27% who say "about as safe" as before 9/11.