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Clinton Favored by Older, Low-Income Voters in Early Primaries

By Julianna Goldman

Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Hillary Clinton is dominating the Democratic presidential
field among lower-income and older voters in early primary states, while
Republican Fred Thompson is making inroads among religious voters,
particularly in the South and at the expense of rival Mitt Romney.

A Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll conducted this month in Iowa, New
Hampshire and South Carolina reveals strengths and weaknesses for each
candidate within powerful voting groups. Polling trends in these states are closely
watched because they plan to hold the nation's first voting contests next January.

In all three states, New York Senator Clinton, 59, appeals to individuals in
households earning less than $40,000 as well as those over the age of 65. Illinois
Senator Barack Obama, 46, her main rival for the Democratic nomination, fares
better among younger voters in Iowa.

``Clinton's demographics are just what you want, because it is in fact older voters
who actually exercise their vote more,'' said Steffen Schmidt, a political
science professor at Iowa State University in Ames. Her association with
``universal health care probably is very important'' to lower-income workers, he

In Iowa, where Clinton is locked in a tight race with Obama and former North
Carolina Senator John Edwards, 37 percent of Democratic voters 65 and older
support her, far more than her two rivals.

Older Voters

Clinton's lead in this age group is even more striking in New Hampshire and
South Carolina. Forty-eight percent of older voters in South Carolina support
Clinton, while 3 percent favor Obama. In New Hampshire, 44 percent of those
voters support Clinton, while 8 percent back Obama.

Barbara Army, 74, a retired electronics worker from Nashua, New Hampshire,
said in a follow-up interview that she trusts Clinton to fix ``messes'' such as
health care and education. ``She knows what needs to be done and she will get it
done,'' Army said.
The poll of 1,079 registered voters in Iowa, 1,312 voters in New Hampshire and
820 voters in South Carolina was conducted Sept. 6-10. The margin of sampling
error is from 3 to 5 percentage points.

On the Republican side, while general trends aren't as clear, the religious right --
defined in the poll as self- described religious fundamentalists, Christian
conservatives and people who take the Bible literally -- is hurting Romney, 60, in
South Carolina, where they wield more clout than in Iowa and New Hampshire.

`Looking Elsewhere'

``Despite Romney's best efforts, the Christian right is still looking elsewhere for a
candidate,'' said Allan Lichtman, a political science professor at American
University in Washington.

Among the religious right in South Carolina, Romney, a Mormon, trails former
New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 63, Arizona Senator John McCain, 71, and
Thompson, a former Tennessee senator who announced his candidacy last
week. Thompson, 65, leads with 31 percent, followed by Giuliani with 20 percent,
McCain with 15 percent and Romney with 8 percent.

Romney also is behind those candidates within South Carolina's broader pool of
Republican voters.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who is leading the Republican field
overall in Iowa and New Hampshire, generally fares better among upper-income
and elderly voters, the poll shows. In Iowa, Romney is running about even with
Giuliani among voters belonging to the religious right and has a huge lead among
Republicans who aren't in that group. The religious right isn't a factor in New


``I see Mormonism as a cult, instead of a branch of Christianity,'' said Valarie
Harper, 56, who works part-time in a flower shop in West Columbia, South
Carolina, and described herself as a Christian conservative.

Older and younger voters in New Hampshire are evenly split between Romney
and Giuliani: thirty-four percent of respondents 65 and older favor Romney and
37 percent between the ages of 18 and 44 support Giuliani.

Among the Democratic candidates, Obama, who campaigns as the candidate of
change, fares slightly better than Clinton and Edwards with younger voters in
Clinton leads Obama and Edwards among households earning less than $40,000
in all three states. She has a double-digit advantage in South Carolina and New

In Iowa, Edwards, 54, gets a boost among union members, who make up 11
percent of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Edwards,
who has received four union endorsements, is supported by 37 percent of
respondents in this category, while 23 percent favor Clinton and 12 percent
support Obama. Clinton has picked up at least three union endorsements.

While Obama is the first African-American to have a serious chance at winning
the Democratic nomination, Clinton is drawing more support from black voters in
South Carolina, with 43 percent, compared with 32 percent for Obama. Clinton
also registers better with white voters there, garnering 51 percent, while 15
percent support Obama.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julianna Goldman in Washington at .

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