Two days after the University of New Hampshire Survey Center released a tracking poll on January 4, 2008 showing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama still tied for first place among New Hampshire voters who intend to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, the latest WMUR/CNN tracking poll reveals that Obama has opened up a 10-point lead over Clinton. Obama now leads Clinton 39% to 29%, attributed to his gaining a “bounce” from his first-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. The media has portrayed the battle for the Democratic nomination as a horse-race between Obama and Clinton, and Obama’s surge is a result of the media’s portrayal of him as the winner in Iowa.
CNN Polling Director Keating Holland believes placing first in the Iowa caucuses boosted Obama’s candidacy in New Hampshire as voters are now convinced that he can win the presidency if he takes the nomination. According to Holland, “In December, 45 percent thought Clinton had the best chance of beating the GOP nominee. But in Saturday’s poll, Clinton and Obama were tied on that measure, and now Obama has a 42 percent to 31 percent edge over Clinton on electability.”
With 29% of the second-round vote, Clinton finished third in the Iowa caucuses behind John Edwards, whose support among New Hampshire voters has dropped from 20% in the January 4th poll to 16% in the latest tracking poll, which was conducted on January 5-6th.
New Hampshire has an open primary in which independent or undeclared voters can request a ballot of either party. At the time of the Iowa caucuses, it was reported that 60% of independents/undeclared voters intended to vote in the Democratic primary. Since a direct appeal to Republicans and independents is part of Obama’s stump speech, it is felt that many of those independent/undeclared voters who intend to vote in the Democratic primary will cast their ballot for Obama.
Clinton and Obama, who entered into a statistical tie back in December 2007, were tied at 33% each in the January 4th tracking poll. In the December 12th WMUR/CNN tracking poll, Clinton and Obama essentially were tied with Clinton at 31% and Obama at 30%. The December tracing poll showed that Clinton had suffered an erosion of support of 5% from the previous November poll, while Obama’s support had increased by 8%, moving him into a statistical tie with the former First Lady. Clinton’s waning fortunes primarily were attributed to a loss of support among women voters, which declined 10-points from 43% to 33% in December. Her support among men remained constant, dropping only 1-point from 28% to 27%.
Obama out-polled Clinton among women caucus-goers in Iowa, where he finished first with 38% after two rounds of voting among caucus-voters.
In the January 4th poll, former U.S. Senator John Edwards trailed the front-runners with 20%, representing a 6-point gain from the 14% he racked up in the December poll. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who had come in at 12% in the November 20, 2007 poll, was at 7% in the latest poll, up from 4% just two days ago. In July 2007, Richardson was in third place with 10%, but has suffered from the surge of Obama and the recovery of Edwards, who once lead in early N.H. polls. U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) polled 2% in the January 4th poll.
On the Republican side, Senator John McCain (Arizona) leads erstwhile Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the former front-runner, by 32% to 26%, with both candidates down a percentage point from the January 4th poll. McCain pulled even with Romney according to a New Year’s Day poll, a stunning development as in the December 12, 2007 tracking poll, Romney had a 13-point lead over McCain, polling 32% to McCain’s 19%.
John McCain won the 2000 New Hampshire primary.
Mitt Romney, the long-time front-runner in both Iowa and New Hampshire, was bested in the Iowa caucuses by former Arizona governor Mike Huckabee, while McCain came in a distant third. In the January 5-6 tracking poll, Huckabee took over the show position among Republicans with 14%, with former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani slipping from third to fourth place with 11%. This represents a reversal of position, as Guiliani was in third with 14% and Huckabee in fourth with 11% in the January 4th poll.
In the December 12, 2007 poll, Guiliani was tied with McCain for second place, polling 19%.
Among the also-rans, Ron Paul’s support has gone up one-point to 10% in two days. Fred Thompson, who is not contesting New Hampshire, continues to poll only 1%, unchanged since the December tracking polls. His lack of support is stunning, seeing as how Thompson had polled 13% for third place, outpacing McCain at 12%, in polls taken before the former Tennessee Senator declared for the presidency.
The margin of error of the tracking polls in +/- 5%. The tracking polls are conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.