AP-Pew poll: Clinton has edge in early contests

Health care and Iraq dominate Democrats' concerns in the three pivotal early voting states of the 2008 US presidential race giving the advantage to Hillary Rodham Clinton, a poll shows. Clinton has clear leads in New Hampshire and South Carolina, building on her ownership of the health-care issue and her broad but more fragile trust among Democrats on Iraq, the survey showed Monday. Yet she could stumble in Iowa, whose January 3 caucuses will be the first voting and where she is in a scramble with Barack Obama, trailed closely by John Edwards. An extensive poll in the three states by The Associated Press and the nonpartisan Pew Research Center finds Democrats enthusiastic about their overall presidential field. Most rate it strongly, and they spiritedly back the contenders they prefer. The poll shows Clinton's advantages in the early contests stretch beyond the top issues. The New York senator has amassed strong support among crucial groups including female, older, less-educated and lower-income Democrats - significant because women and older voters in particular have dominated these primaries and caucuses in the past. In Iowa though, she has only a modest lead over Obama among women.