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Who Will Win in New Hampshire?

Posted January. 07, 2008 07:53,   


Just ahead of the U.S. New Hampshire primary Tuesday, the second contest of this year’s race for the White House, the popularity of Democratic Senator Barack Obama is rising. For the Republicans, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has fallen to third after winning in Iowa, as Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Arizona Senator John McCain are battling for first.

Heated two-way competitions in both major parties are expected.

Among the Democrats, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who suffered a humiliating third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses after enjoying a solid lead in the polls, is striving to win in New Hampshire.

Clinton leads Obama 32 to 28 percent, according to a survey of New Hampshire residents conducted by Reuters released January 5. A daily Reuters poll, however, showed that Obama is rapidly gaining on Clinton, narrowing the gap two percentage points in a day.

A CNN poll says Obama and Clinton each have 33 percent of the state’s voters, but polling agency Rasmussen announced conflicting results. Rasmussen said its survey on New Hampshire voters showed 35 percent of the voters supported Obama while 26 percents picked Clinton.

Almost all of the polls on January 5 showed a strong Clinton lead. Yet Obama could turn the tide if he wins again, this time in New Hampshire.

Among the Republicans, McCain, once dubbed a “turned-off light,” is gaining attention on whether he can win in the upcoming primary. A staunch supporter of the Iraq war, McCain was once deemed his party’s frontrunner, but with the situation in the war-torn country deteriorating, he has hovered between third or fourth place.

McCain and Romney, however, appear to be dueling for first place in New Hampshire, polls suggest. In the 2000 Republican race, McCain defeated George W. Bush in New Hampshire.

Unlike conservative Iowa, where 60 percent of eligible voters consider themselves Christian, New Hampshire is relatively free from religious influence. Though Baptist preacher-turned-politician Huckabee clinched an upset victory in Iowa, he is suffering from a low approval rating of around 10 percent in New Hampshire (12 percent according to Reuters).

Attention is on whether African Americans will vote for Obama. The most remarkable feature of this election is the possibility of a black candidate becoming president. Polls over the past six months indicate that black voters support Clinton because they “prefer former Bill Clinton administration’s policies for blacks over those of Obama.”

Changes among voters, however, have occurred Obama’s Iowa victory. First, a large number of black voters are expected to throw their support behind the Illinois senator. The 95 percent of Iowa voters who chose Obama indicate that whites are not reluctant to select him.

Black voters are proud of Obama’s victory in Iowa (where the majority of the residents are whites), said the magazine Politico Saturday, adding the sentiment of black voters has probably turned in favor of Obama.

In this regard, the South Carolina primary on January 19 is drawing attention, as 50 percent of voters there are black. Black voters, however, account for just 12 percent of all eligible voters in the U.S., and their approval ratings for Democrats have always been around 90 percent. Thus changes in black voter sentiment will probably have no effect on the presidential election itself, experts say.