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Poll suggests Nevada could become a swing state in 2008

  • Story Highlights
  • Rudy Giuliani leads Sen. Clinton 47-46 percent, a statistical tie, in Nevada, poll says
  • Clinton leads Republican Mitt Romney 51-42 percent in Nevada, according to poll
  • Las Vegas population boom turning Nevada into a swing state
  • Next Article in Politics »

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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- A poll released Thursday has the Democratic and Republican presidential front-runners neck-and-neck in Nevada, suggesting that the state could once again serve as a swing state in the upcoming 2008 presidential election.

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GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani campaigned in Henderson, Nevada, last week.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, a general election contest pitting Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and Rudy Giuliani, the former Republican mayor of New York, would be too close to call in the Silver State.

The poll showed Giuliani receiving 47 percent of votes in the hypothetical general-election matchup with Clinton, who scored 46 points -- a statistical dead heat given the poll's 2.5 percent margin of error.

The survey of 1,675 registered Nevada voters, conducted on November 9-13, also showed the senator from New York faring better if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the GOP nomination, with Clinton taking 51 percent to Romney's 42 percent in such a matchup.

A influx of new arrivals have made Western states like Nevada competitive battlegrounds.

Nevada became a bastion for Republicans in the '70s and '80s when a population boom brought a large number of white, "Reagan Republicans" to the state. President Bush won Nevada in 2000 and 2004.

Now, another population boom is changing the state's politics. Las Vegas is the country's fast-growing congressional district.

Many young families are moving to Las Vegas to take up jobs in the burgeoning service sector. Video Watch how Nevada's population is changing »

Retirees, veterans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans are also moving to Las Vegas area, which accounts for 70 percent of the state's population as well.

The poll numbers come as Clinton prepares to debate her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination at the Thomas and Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Thursday night. The debate, hosted by CNN and the Nevada Democratic Party, begins at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET).

The debate will be the first showdown for the Democratic presidential hopefuls since the October 30 face-off in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Clinton has a large lead over the other candidates among Nevada Democratic caucus-goers, according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll released Wednesday, with her support more than double that of her nearest opponent, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Video Watch why Democrats are putting the spotlight on Nevada »

The New York Democrat is the top pick of more than half, 51 percent, of the likely caucus participants interviewed for the poll. Her closest rival, Obama, was the choice of 23 percent. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina came in at 11 percent.

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All other candidates came in at single digits: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, 5 percent; Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, 4 percent; former Sen. Mike Gravel, 1 percent; and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, 1 percent.

The poll's margin of error for questions about the Democratic race in Nevada was plus-or-minus 5 percent. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Bill Schneider contributed to this report.

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