Clinton and Giuliani 2008 Frontrunners

A new Gallup poll finds that Hillary Clinton continues to have a wide lead over the Democratic field while Rudi Giuliani maintains a slight lead over John McCain among those who identify themselves as members of their respective parties.

Here are candidates who are either currently polling at least 1% or have actually announced they are running:

Democrats Republicans

Gallup Poll January 18, 2006 - Democrats 2008 Gallup Poll January 18, 2006 - Republicans 2008

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Frank Newport explains both why it’s interesting to look at polls this early and why it’s important to keep perspective.

Poll results at this point in the race have the great virtue of measuring the inevitable surges in support for various candidates as they enter and leave the race, and as they labor to develop their images and issue positioning in the minds of voters. At the same time, poll results at this point will most likely change — and change significantly — as things happen during candidates’ campaigns, and as the field is narrowed during the primary season. As a point of reference, Bill Clinton was in eleventh place among Democratic candidates in a February 1991 poll of Democrats; a little more than a year later he had zoomed to the top of the list. On the other hand, George W. Bush had a commanding lead in the Republican polls in late 1998 and early 1999 before winning his party’s 2000 presidential nomination.

What’s interesting, too, is how little fluctuation there has been in these numbers over the past few months.

On the Democratic side, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton remains the clear leader, as she has been in every poll of Democrats Gallup has conducted since early 2005. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is in second place, followed by a group of three other candidates to round out the top five: former senator and 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards, former Vice President and 2000 presidential candidate Al Gore, and Massachusetts Sen. and 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry.


There have been slight fluctuations in the precise level of support given to Giuliani and McCain by Republicans across the last several months, but all of these changes are within the margin of error. There is a great deal of interest in the relative positioning of McCain, given his outspoken support for an increase in troop levels in Iraq (Giuliani has also supported Bush’s recent announcement of a surge). But as of the dates of this poll, there is no significant change from previous polls in the level of support among Republicans for McCain’s candidacy.

One would think, too, that Obama would show some movement considering that he’s both relatively new on the national scene and receiving so much exposure.

Lydia Saad looks inside the numbers on the GOP side and finds “mostly positive commentary about McCain and Giuliani — praise for virtuous character, strong leadership, experience, and electability — but relatively little of substance about Romney.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.