Clinton and McCain lead in New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain hold leads in New Hampshire four days before the state’s presidential nominating contest, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Friday.

The poll was taken before Iowa’s caucuses on Thursday, when Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee easily captured the first big prizes in the state-by-state battle to choose candidates in November’s presidential election.

In the New Hampshire poll, Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, led Illinois Sen. Obama 32 percent to 26 percent among likely voters in the state’s Democratic primary. Former Sen. John Edwards, the runner-up in Iowa, was at 20 percent, and no other Democrat was in double digits.

“There will be an Iowa bounce in New Hampshire for Obama,” pollster John Zogby said. “Clearly the burden here is going to be on Clinton to maintain the validity of her candidacy.”

Among Republicans in New Hampshire, Arizona Sen. McCain holds an early four-point edge on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 34 percent to 30 percent.

Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, was at 10 percent in New Hampshire, which does not have as many of the evangelical voters who helped propel him to his Iowa win.

“McCain is in a good position here already, and Romney was really hurt by his showing in Iowa,” Zogby said. “Huckabee will get some kind of bounce in New Hampshire.”

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About 7 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats remained undecided in the New Hampshire poll, leaving room for momentum swings even before the Iowa results were known.


The rolling poll of 960 likely Democratic voters and 1,076 likely Republican voters was taken Monday through Thursday. The Democratic race had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points and the Republican race had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Among Democrats, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was at 7 percent, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich was at 3 percent, Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden was at 2 percent and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd was at 1 percent. Dodd and Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa results were announced.

Clinton had the most dedicated Democratic supporters in the poll, with 61 percent saying their support was very strong for the former first lady. Edwards and Obama had 57 percent of their supporters say their backing was very strong.

Among Republicans, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was at 9 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul was at 7 percent and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson was at 2 percent. California Rep. Duncan Hunter was at less than 1 percent.

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McCain won the 2000 New Hampshire primary during his failed presidential bid when independents, who can vote in either party’s primary, flocked to his campaign.

This time, the poll found 60 percent of New Hampshire’s independents planned to vote in the Democratic primary, with 40 percent looking to the Republican contest.

Paul, the anti-war libertarian who has developed an intense group of grass-roots supporters, drew the most dedicated backing with 69 percent calling it very strong.

McCain and Huckabee both had 58 percent who called their support very strong.

The rolling tracking poll will continue each day until New Hampshire’s voting 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.

(Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by David Wiessler)

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