Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, leads the Iowa Poll with 26 percent of likely caucus participants naming him their first choice for the presidency. The poll, conducted Tuesday through Friday, also showed him gaining strength as the week wore on.
Edwards, a North Carolina senator who was in single digits in an Iowa Poll taken two months ago, follows in second place at 23 percent – his highest finish in any media poll of Iowans.
Dean, the candidate who seemed to be in the driver’s seat as recently as two weeks ago with a key endorsement from Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, has slipped to third at 20 percent. But the former Vermont governor remains within striking distance of the lead in an unusually close race in which almost half of caucus-goers say they could still change their minds.
Dick Gephardt, the Missouri congressman who is counting on a strong finish with help from labor unions, has dropped to fourth place at 18 percent. Gephardt won the caucuses in 1988 before losing the nomination to Michael Dukakis.
The poll has a margin of error of four percentage points.