With just four days remaining the latest Zogby three day rolling, tracking telephone poll for New Hampshire conducted yesterday shows John McCain at 32%, dropping two points off his lead, while Flip Romney is holding steady in second at 30%. Mike Huckabee picks up 2 points in a distant third with 12%.
Rudy Giuliani isn't campaigning in New Hampshire, and we may see some of his supporters defecting on election day. Cutie Rudy's strength was in large part his position as "the one candidate who can beat Clinton," and with the shine on Clinton's Inevitability Shield fading we will probably see some defections from Giuliani's camp in New Hampshire (and elsewhere), as GOPers conclude there are more important factors to consider than 'who can beat Hill?'.
Fred Thompson picked up a point, from 2% to 3%, but his total is within the margin of error, and he continues to run on flat tires. Note also that the 'undecided' category picked up a point, another sign of Republican confusion, but with rounding and the margin of error this may be statistically insignificant.
I'll get to the Democratic results soon, but first here's more data on the Republicans from Zogby:
McCain's lead continues to be based on the strength of support among independents, where he holds a 42% to 29% over Romney, with no other Republican winning more than 10% support among this group. Among moderates, McCain's edge dropped from 53% support to 48% support after yesterday's polling was added to the Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby three-day rolling average, while while Romney also lost some ground, dropping from 24% to 22%. Meanwhile, Romney's edge over McCain among mainline conservatives - the largest voting bloc in the GOP - increased from one to five points.
Independents are the key to the election -- they're the swing votes that will decide the winner, a factor the evangelical right happily ignores with their support of Huckabee.
Huckabee's bounce from the Iowa victory comes among those who consider themselves "very conservative," where he jumped from 21% to 28% when just yesterday's post-Iowa caucus polling is folded into the mix. However, Romney still leads in the category with 33% support. McCain wins 20% among the very conservative.
In my view, Huckabee's continued rise will begin to draw votes away from Romney, and the results we're seeing in this poll do not fully reflect the Huckabee bounce out of Iowa. Not surprisingly, the Boston suburbs in New Hampshire are Romney's stronghold.
Geographically, the bulk of population is found in the New Hampshire counties that are considered suburbs to Boston and along the seacoast - which together comprise roughly two-thirds of those who say they are likely to vote in the Republican primary. Romney narrowly leads McCain in those places, while McCain holds a tidy lead up in the more independent-minded north.
Democratic Results and Analysis.
On the Democratic side the poll shows Hillary Clinton holding steady with 32% of the vote while Barack Obama narrows the already small gap, picking up 2 points at 28%. John Edwards is holding steady at 20%.
On the Democratic side, Clinton's lead includes strong support among women, where she wins 39% support, compared to 26% support for Barack Obama and 20% for John Edwards. Among men, Obama has expanded his edge from three points to seven points over Clinton, while Edwards remained steady with 21%.
Among likely-voting Democrats, Clinton also enjoys strength with 36% support, compared to 24% for Obama and 20% for Edwards. Among independents who said they were likely to vote in the Democratic primary, Obama enjoys 34% backing, compared to 26% support for Clinton and 21% for Edwards. Independent voters are important in New Hampshire because they can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary.
Needless to say, Independents hold the key in the General Election as well, free to vote for any candidate, and for this reason Obama's continued rise could be worrisome. He's clearly the more progressive candidate compared to Clinton, although I expect Clinton to start pitching more towards progressives in state like New Hampshire.
Reaching out towards the center is key to an Obama White House win.
However, and this may be the key to Obama winning the primary and the general election, Obama has a distinct and measurable appeal to the key independents which, in the Democratic rolls, are the more conservative of the Democrats. Obama outpolls Clinton in New Hampshire among those Democrats who self-identify as 'conservative' by a wide margin, 32.5% to 24.7%.
Therein lies the key to an Obama Presidential victory. With the progressive segment of the Democrats solidly behind him Obama must now reach out towards the right, and not just talk the talk of the candidate who can bring this nation back together, but walk the walk as well.
Obama needs to demonstrate that he has the ability to keep our nation secure while healing the international rifts created by 8 years of Bush's Cowboy Diplomacy. That alone will sway some 'true conservative' centrists towards the Obama camp, but since unexpected current events can easily sway the electorate -- such as the capture of Osama bin-Laden or a an Israeli strike against Iran just a few months before the election, Obama needs to demonstrate responsible leadership on domestic issues as well.
He needs to show that a progressive agenda of social reform need not bankrupt the country, or cause middle-class taxes to rise -- especially important in light of his continued promise of a middle-class tax break.
The Democratic nominee's domestic policies and agendas will be throughly vetted by the unblinking conservative financial press, such as the Wall Street Journal, which was just recently purchased by Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch. Democrats should be careful not to promise more change than the country can afford to pay for, and a great orator like Obama needs to build his populist progressive promises on a sound, fiscally-responsible foundation.
If he can accomplish that he'll enjoy a landslide victory in November. With the winds of Iowa at his back, a victory in New Hampshire is a key step towards that goal for Senator Obama.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!