Clinton, Obama Tied in NH; McCain Leads GOP Field
By Jon Cohen
Blackberries across the country lit up at 6 p.m. this evening with the release of the first CNN-University of New Hampshire-WMUR poll taken after the Iowa caucuses.
The new poll shows Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton still in a tight battle for the Democratic primary, while on the Republican side, Arizona Sen. John McCain has taken his first lead since April.
McCain holds a narrow, six percentage point, lead over the GOP field, supported by 33 percent of likely primary voters in the new poll to 27 percent for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. For McCain, his lead is the first in a UNH poll since the spring, with his support nearly doubling since the fall (he was at 17 percent in September).
The Democratic contest could not be closer: Clinton and Obama both scored 33 percent in the new poll, with former North Carolina senator John Edwards trailing with 20 percent. Before Iowa, Clinton was at 34 percent in this poll, Obama at 30 percent.
In rapid response, the Clinton campaign has already e-mailed memo asking in all-caps "WHERE IS THE BOUNCE?"
The main post-Iowa shift is that New Hampshire Democratic voters are now just as apt to call Clinton and Obama the Democrat's most electable candidate. A week ago, Clinton had a 2-1 advantage on this attribute.
Similar to Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, New Hampshire voters prioritize change over experience by a large margin in the new poll, and Obama has the edge as the candidate most likely to bring needed change. (Clinton led on this attribute in September.) Clinton has a large lead on experience, while the Illinois senator has a 3-1 advantage as the "most inspiring" contender.
In the new poll, Obama runs evenly with Clinton among women for the first time (33 Clinton, 32 Obama); a week ago Clinton had an 11-point edge. The two also split men in the new poll, 33 percent Obama, 32 percent Clinton.
Among Republicans, last week Romney had a 13 percentage point advantage over McCain as the GOP's most electable candidate, but that's now evaporated: 29 percent said McCain is the one who has the best chance of beating the Democratic nominee in the general election, 28 percent said it's Romney.
The survey was conducted Jan. 4 and 5, and has a margin of sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.
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