WASHINGTON (AP) – Rudy Giuliani is doing so well among conservatives that even those who don’t back his presidential bid turn to him in strong numbers when asked to name their second choice, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll showed Thursday.

In the latest evidence of the former New York mayor’s strength among the Republican Party’s right wing, one-third of the conservatives supporting his rivals made him their pick when asked to choose an alternative, considerably more than anyone else.

Overall among Republicans and GOP-leaning voters, Giuliani is the favored candidate of 29 percent, followed by former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson’s 19 percent, this week’s AP-Ipsos poll showed. Arizona Sen. John McCain was next at 13 percent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 12 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had 10 percent.

The poll, released a day after Giuliani’s endorsement by televangelist Pat Robertson, showed the New Yorker holding his own among the reddest of red-state voters. He was slightly ahead of Thompson among Southerners, and even with him among white men, married men, older men, evangelicals and conservatives.

Giuliani, assailed by some on the right for his moderate stances on abortion, gays and guns, was the second choice of 33 percent of the conservatives who did not make him their top pick.

An additional 19 percent took McCain as their backup selection, while Romney got 15 percent, Thompson 14 percent and Huckabee 13 percent.

With the first primary votes less than two months away, the figures underline the difficulties Giuliani’s foes may face in prying conservative support away from him.

Thompson pollster John McLaughlin said Thompson was only now beginning to spend heavily on television commercials in early states, adding, “You’ll start seeing some of these numbers move now.”

Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, said polling at this stage reflects name recognition.

“Right now our concern is our standing in the early primary states,” he said. Romney leads in most polls in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The survey showed that though Giuliani has not pulled away from the pack, Thompson has yet to surpass the one-fifth of GOP voters he has been attracting since the summer.

“Republicans across the board are supporting the experienced candidate who actually sticks with his positions and has used conservative principles to get results,” said Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Rodham Clinton maintained a 2-to-1 lead over her nearest rival despite fallout over last week’s Democratic presidential debate, according to the poll.

Clinton, the New York senator, was ahead of Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois 45 percent to 22 percent, about the same as her margin last month. John Edwards had 12 percent.

The survey was taken days after a televised Oct. 30 Democratic debate in which Clinton avoided giving specific answers to several questions and her opponents repeatedly challenged her candor and character. Her campaign spent several days after that accusing the rivals of piling on.

Clinton holds a commanding 48 percent to 19 percent lead over Obama among women. Her lead is 41 percent to 27 percent over Obama among men.

The poll involved telephone interviews with 1,001 adults conducted from Nov. 5-7 and had an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

It included results for 474 Democrats for whom the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4.5 points, and 361 Republicans for whom the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 5.2 percentage points.

AP News survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

AP-ES-11-08-07 1707EST

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