WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton continues to lead in national polls, but Illinois Sen. Barack Obama holds a strong lead over the New York Democrat in the early-voting state of South Carolina, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll.
Obama leads his Democratic presidential rival by 9 points, 34 percent to 25 percent, according to the poll for NBC News and the McClatchy Newspapers. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who won the Palmetto State's primary in 2004, came in third with 12 percent. Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore, who so far has refused to rule out a presidential bid, polled at 2 percent. Nearly one quarter or 24 percent were undecided.
On the Republican side, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson holds a 4 point lead over former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 25 percent to 21 percent. Rounding out the poll is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 12 percent; Arizona Sen. John McCain, 7 percent; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, five percent. More than one quarter or 28 percent were undecided.
The poll also indicates Obama holds a significant lead, 41 percent to 18 percent, over Clinton among black voters. In South Carolina, black voters are the key voting block in the state’s Democratic primary.
The poll results come three days after Obama campaigned in Spartanburg, South Carolina, telling a largely black audience, "Let's admit to ourselves that there are a lot of men out there that need to stop acting liking boys; who need to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; who need to know that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise a child."
The Mason-Dixon poll, conducted June 13-15, interviewed 329 likely Democratic primary voters and 423 likely Republican voters. It carries a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for the Democratic poll and 4.8 percentage points for the GOP poll.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney