Clinton and Obama deadlocked in Iowa: poll
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two weeks before the Iowa contest in the presidential election, Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remained deadlocked in a new state poll, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Thirty-three percent of Iowa Democrats likely to participate in the caucuses support Obama, 29 percent back Clinton and 20 percent support former North Carolina senator John Edwards, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll.
A month ago, Clinton, of New York, had 30 percent support compared to 26 percent for Obama, of Illinois, the Post said.
Eight Democrats and eight Republicans are vying for the right to face off in the November 4, 2008, election to choose a successor to Republican President George W. Bush, who will leave office after two terms.
Iowa holds the first of the state-by-state nominating contests on January 3, when supporters of each presidential candidate gather in meetings called caucuses to declare their presidential preference.
The poll underscores the importance of efforts by the Democratic candidates to turn out supporters for the caucuses, the newspaper said.
The telephone poll of 652 Iowans likely to participate in the Democratic caucuses was conducted December 13 to 17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
More than seven in 10 of Obama's supporters said they were certain to participate in the caucuses, compared with 59 percent of Clinton's backers, the Post said.
However, the poll found that Clinton's supporters were the most firmly behind her. Seventy percent said they would definitely back her, while Edwards' and Obama's supporters were more apt to say they might change their minds.
Fifty-nine percent of Clinton's backers said they were very enthusiastic about supporting her, compared with 49 percent of Obama's supporters, the poll said.
On the question of who is most electable, Clinton and Obama were running about even, closing a 14-point advantage she held in November, the Post said.
In the Iowa poll, Clinton was ahead on the question of which candidate is seen as the strongest leader.
Obama's biggest advantage over the other Democratic candidates came on the question of who is the most honest, and he held a narrow lead as the candidate who "best understands the problems of people like you," the poll said.
(Reporting by Joanne Allen, editing by Vicki Allen)