ALBANY, N.Y. – Joseph Lieberman's (search) lead in New York has slipped and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) has caught up to the U.S. senator from Connecticut among Democratic voters, a statewide poll reported Thursday.
"The name recognition advantage he had fades over time as the others become more well known," said Lee Miringoff, head of Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion.
The latest Marist poll had Dean favored by 18 percent of New York Democrats in the race for the party's presidential nomination. Lieberman, the party's vice presidential candidate in 2000, was at 16 percent. They were followed by former General Wesley Clark (search) at 14 percent and Rep. Richard Gephardt (search) at 10 percent. The other Democratic contenders were all in single digits.
Just last month, pollsters from the Marist College institute in Poughkeepsie had Lieberman leading the pack at 23 percent with Dean next at 13 percent.
A statewide poll of New York Democrats conducted late last month by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute had Clark at 18 percent, Dean at 17 percent and Lieberman at 13 percent.
While the news from Marist appeared to be good for Dean, Miringoff noted that 23 percent of New York's Democratic voters remain undecided and 48 percent said they weren't following the race very closely.
Also, more than one-third of the Democrats who expressed a candidate preference said they might vote differently in the state's March 2 presidential primary.
"It's a pretty fluid situation," the Marist pollster said.
Calling the lack of strong support for any one contender "an odd situation," Miringoff predicted the early voting in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary "will affect things dramatically in New York" this election cycle.
New York Democrats said their top issues of concern were domestic items such as health care and education (43 percent) and the economy (32 percent). Just 9 percent cited the situation in Iraq as what they most wanted to hear about in the campaign. Another 9 percent said they were most interested in hearing about the war against terrorism.
The telephone poll of 417 registered Democrats was conducted Oct. 8-20 and has a margin or error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.