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Poll: 4-way GOP "dead heat" led by McCain; Hillary trounces Obama

Quinnipiac University's latest poll of Floridians shows that there's a statistical tie with the top four Republican contenders. John McCain, with 22 percentage points, barely leads. Rudy Giuliani has 20 points and Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee's are tied at 19. Fred Thompson (7) and Ron Paul (5) barely make the cut.

Margin of error: 4.8 percentage points for the 421 Democrats and 419 Republicans polled. The close numbers on the Republican side means that wins in Michigan and South Carolina will make this and other Florida polls really dated really fast. Early voting starts today in Florida and Election Day is Jan. 29.

Q Pollster Peter A. Brown suggests that everything's all but wrapped up in Florida's "beauty contest" (so called 'cause the vote kind of doesn't count but really does [welcome to Florida Democratic voting, folks]). Read here for more about that.

Hillary Clinton slams Barack Obama by 21 percentage points, with a 52-31 lead. And three quarters of her supporters claim they'll stick with her, while only 61 percent of Obama-ites feel the same loyalty for their man.

Brown said "the big loser" is Democrat John Edwards, the former vice presidential candidate with 9 points who couldn't even get the endorsement of his former running mate.

Also, Brown notes "these numbers can't be good news for Mayor Giuliani," who keeps slip, slip, slipping in poll after poll as he lost in Iowa and New Hampshire, despite setting up shop in the Sunshine state. Giuliani expected and needed to win Florida.

The juxtaposition between the two New Yorkers is interesting: Rudy loses ground in Florida while campaigning here. Hillary gains in Florida while not campaigning here. The difference: Hillary campaigned and won elsewhere, spent and raised money wisely and got TV time both by way of advertising and free media.

Still, Giuliani has the most-committed voters, while McCain's support is "flimsier," Brown suggests, pointing out that only 42 percent of his voters saying they're a firm commitment.

Download Qpollprez.doc