Obama rockets past Clinton in New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire Mon Jan 7, 2008 3:27pm EST

1 of 32. Democratic Party presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks to hundreds of supporters as he campaigns outside the Opera House in Lebanon, New Hampshire January 7, 2008. Obama is campaigning on the eve of the January 8 New Hampshire Primary.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama rocketed to a 10-point lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire one day before their showdown in the state's presidential primary, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Monday.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona also began to pull away from rival Mitt Romney, opening a five-point lead on the Massachusetts governor as what had been tight races in both parties began to open up.

This is the first of the rolling New Hampshire polls taken entirely after last week's caucuses in Iowa, where Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee scored breakthrough wins that left Clinton and Romney reeling.

Obama, an Illinois senator bidding to make history as the first black U.S. president, gained 11 points on Clinton to lead the one-time Democratic front-runner 39 percent to 29 percent. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was third with 19 percent.

"This is a breathtaking movement in Obama's direction," said pollster John Zogby. "It's a surge for Obama and movement away from Clinton."

He said the rush toward Obama was even more pronounced in the one day of polling after Saturday's Democratic debate in Manchester, where Clinton went on the attack against Obama and drew a rebuke from Edwards.

"It's almost Iowa redux," Zogby said. "In the closing days in Iowa we saw Clinton losing her strong support among women, liberals and Democrats, and it's happening again."

He said Obama had a big and growing lead among independents and held the edge among young voters, moderates and union members.

The rolling poll of 844 likely Democratic voters and 834 likely Republican voters was taken Friday through Sunday. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

NEXT BATTLEGROUND

New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday is the next battleground in the state-by-state process of choosing Republican and Democratic candidates for November's election to replace President George W. Bush.

The pressure is on Clinton and Romney to revive their campaigns after disappointing showings in Iowa, and a second consecutive loss for either could doom their comebacks.

Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady, finished third in Iowa. Romney, who at one time led polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, finished second.

McCain sailed past Romney in the new poll to open a five-point lead at 34 percent to 29 percent. Huckabee, a Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor, dropped back slightly to 10 percent, barely holding third place over former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani at 9 percent.

"It was a big day for McCain," Zogby said. "He maintains a very big lead among independents, but his problem is that he won't draw as many independents as he did in 2000."

McCain won the state's primary that year with help from a surge of independent support, but eventually lost the Republican nomination to Bush.

About 6 percent in each party remain undecided, according to the New Hampshire poll.

In the Democratic race, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was in fourth place at 6 percent, ahead of Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich at 2 percent.

In the Republican race, Texas Rep. Ron Paul was at 6 percent. Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson was at 3 percent and California Rep. Duncan Hunter was at 1 percent.

The rolling tracking poll will continue one more day until New Hampshire's vote on Tuesday. In a rolling poll, the most recent day's results are added while the oldest day's results are dropped in order to track changing momentum.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

(For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/)

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