WASHINGTON Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who barely registered in public opinion polls a few months ago, has taken a solid lead in Iowa, according to a Newsweek magazine survey released on Friday.
Less than one month before Iowa holds caucuses on January 3 to pick favorite Republican and Democratic candidates for president, Huckabee leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 39 percent to 17 percent in the Newsweek poll, which was conducted December 5-6.
Huckabee's wide lead reflected Republicans who said they were likely to attend the caucuses, which mark the first statewide voting in the 2008 campaigns.
Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a conservative ordained Southern Baptist minister, registered only 6 percent support in Newsweek's late September poll.
The latest Newsweek poll showed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, ahead of Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, 35 percent to 29 percent, among those most likely to attend the Iowa caucuses.
Newsweek said its poll showed other Republican candidates were showing signs of "fading" in Iowa.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been considered a front-runner for his party's presidential nomination nationally, scored 9 percent in the Newsweek poll, down from 15 percent in September.
Ex-senator Fred Thompson, a Hollywood actor, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, also saw their support fall, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of 3 percent.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan, editing by Todd Eastham)