Voters in Iowa will be the first to pick among U.S. presidential candidates running for the two major political party nominations. A new poll shows, however, two of the contenders dominate the field in three crucial states that will vote later. In simultaneous surveys in the three so-called "swing" states, the Quinnipiac University Poll shows Senator Hillary Clinton leads all Democrats, and former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani is at the top of the Republican field. VOA's Ravi Khanna has more.
Senator Barak Obama is a front runner among Democrats in the most recent public opinion poll in Iowa, though Senator Hillary Clinton has led in others in what has become a tight three-way race.
But the Quinnipiac University poll shows Clinton holding overwhelming leads, especially among women, in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Among Republicans, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has surged ahead of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in Iowa.
But the Quinnipiac polls shows former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani leading in the three swing states. However, he holds only about 30 percent support in each.
The assistant director of the polling institute, Peter Brown says the three have been crucial swing states in presidential elections since 1964, with the winners taking at least two out of the three of them.
He also says respondents in the three states named illegal immigration as the main issue. "Voters by and large don't dislike illegal immigrants. They don't think they are bad people. But they are unhappy with the status quo, and they think immigration reform means stricter controls, they don't think it means opening up the country for further integration of illegal immigrants into American life," said Brown.
Another assistant director of the poll, Clay Richards, says voters in the swing states view the immigration problem differently than a place like New York, where he says a million illegal immigrants are visible every day. "Pennsylvania right next door, another big state has 150,000 immigrants. That is a totally different picture. Yes they are there. But you don't see them every day like you do in New York City. They are not part of your lives."
And the poll shows that 20 to 25 percent of voters in each state would vote against a presidential candidate who disagrees with them on immigration policy.
Brown says illegal immigrants have become important in this American election because Congress and President Bush failed to resolve the issue last spring. "The reason they failed to resolve is that there is deep division in the United States about the policy toward illegal immigration. Should the policy be to try to integrate illegal immigrants into the American society? Or, should it be strict enforcement of laws to perhaps cut down on the number of illegal immigrants?"
He says most respondents defined immigration reform as stricter enforcement, and not assimilation of illegal immigrants into American society.