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Making News Today:
Four polls, no frontrunners, and a partridge in a pear tree
Twas Christmas morning
And all through the land
Little children are asking
Where does this race stand?
In the national poll of polls for the Democrats - an average of four national polls taken in the last two weeks - Hillary Clinton has a healthy 19-point lead over Barack Obama, with John Edwards running third.
But the Democratic race looks very different in the early states.
Four Iowa caucus polls average out to a slight Obama lead over Clinton. In fact, it's a very close three-way race in Iowa - Obama 30, Clinton 28, Edwards 22. Any of them could win. And the four latest New Hampshire polls show Clinton narrowly ahead of Obama. Two polls show Clinton leading, one shows Obama slightly ahead, one shows a tie in New Hampshire. Again, anything could happen.
Clinton's frontrunner status looks shaky in those key early voting states.
Rudy Giuliani's ahead if you average the four latest national polls. Four other candidates - Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson - all bunched together behind Giuliani.
But again: in the early states, a different story entirely.
In Iowa, Huckabee's ahead, with Romney running second. Giuliani's a weak fourth. In New Hampshire, Romney's ahead, with McCain breathing down his neck. Giuliani's third. And Huckabee? A weak fourth in the Granite State.
So are Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani the frontrunners? Only in national polls. But there's no national primary. Full Story
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Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope and Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
New York Times: Democrats Try to Rein In Fees on Consulting
It was the spring of 2004, and Senator John Kerry had just secured the Democratic presidential nomination. But as huge sums of money began pouring into his campaign, his top strategists had more on their minds than just getting ready for a tough race against President Bush.
New York Times: When Private Struggles Become Public Displays
…as the Republican and Democratic candidates engage in personal politicking in Iowa and New Hampshire, holding town-hall-style meetings open to everyone, they are often confronted with the most intimate of problems from the people who come out to see them.
Des Moines Register: Dodd Mixes Politics, Holiday Service
Chris Dodd played Santa on a Christmas Eve visit in Iowa, filling boxes of goodies for shipment to Iowa soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan before slipping into the more familiar role of presidential candidate.
Chicago Tribune: 'Twas the Week Before Caucuses
Sarah Huckabee, daughter of the Republican presidential candidate and Iowa front-runner Mike Huckabee, decided along with the staff of four that runs the Huckabee campaign office in Iowa to remain through the holiday. "If one of us is going to stay, all of us are going stay," she said, near a banner that read "Merry Christmas and a Huckabee New Year."
Politico: Huckabee Runs As GOP Rebel
To spend a day with Mike Huckabee on the campaign trail is to hear echoes of his three insurgent predecessors.
Chicago Tribune: Romney's Big Ad Buys Don't Pre-Empt Foes
As of Dec. 16, the Romney campaign had spent $16 million on television advertising …Yet the former Massachusetts governor is struggling in national polls against Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani, who had spent $600,000 and $2.3 million respectively, according to the same data.
LA Times: Romney's Running Mate - His Father
Mitt Romney's biggest personal successes are in Massachusetts, where he attended graduate school at Harvard, raised his family, ran Boston's Bain Capital investment group and was elected governor. But it is here in auto-heavy Michigan where Romney cut his teeth in business and politics.
Quad City Times: Will First-Time Caucus Goers Show Up?
Hattie Irving, an 81-year old Iowan, has never participated in her state's presidential caucuses, but she plans to this time _ to support Hillary Rodham Clinton.
AP: Dems, GOP Set Gubernatorial Money Records
The major parties are raising record amounts of cash as they prepare for gubernatorial campaign showdowns in 11 states next year.
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau
Candidates are opening gifts, drinking eggnog, and getting some much needed rest before the sprint to Iowa.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook