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Giuliani's Lead Shrinks, Clinton's Margin Holds

Although Romney is not as well known nationally as many of the other leading candidates, he has made a poor first impression on the public. Fifty-four percent said they would definitely not vote for him; 7 percent said they definitely would back him.

The GOP race continues to show considerable volatility. Giuliani's rapid rise has been followed by what has clearly become a period of settling. Over the past two months, he has lost support among white evangelical Protestants, women, those over age 45 and veterans.

Among Republicans who call themselves socially conservative, Giuliani and McCain run about evenly (21 percent to 20 percent), but among the party's smaller socially moderate wing, Giuliani enjoyed a wide lead.

Eight years ago, McCain was highly popular with independent voters, but the latest survey showed Giuliani with a significant lead among Republican-leaning independents (36 percent to 14 percent). Among Republicans, 31 percent supported Giuliani and 25 percent preferred McCain.

Two questions in the new poll related to the news that Edwards's wife, Elizabeth, has had a recurrence of breast cancer and Thompson's revelation that he was diagnosed with lymphoma 2 1/2 years ago and that his cancer is in remission.

Nearly nine in 10 people said the fact that someone has been treated for cancer and the disease is in remission would not affect a decision to support or oppose a candidate.

Among Democrats, more than nine in 10 said Elizabeth Edwards's latest diagnosis would not affect their choice of a nominee. The couple's decision to continue Edwards's campaign for the nomination drew strong support: Three in four Democrats said that decision was the right thing to do.

The Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone April 12-15 among a random sample of 1,141 adults, including an oversample of African Americans, for a total of 206 black respondents. Results from the full sample have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. It is as high as seven points for subgroups.

Polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

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